New Imaging Technique Can Find Disease Sooner, Faster

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One of the most important strategies of disease prevention is early detection. Find something early on and treatment can be started right away, before disease progresses and causes damage.

 Good news then — a new study reports that researchers have discovered how to better detect disease in the body.

 Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City found that by combining two imaging techniques, they were better able to determine when and where a disease may be developing.

 In the study, Dr. James Rudd and team used CT imaging, as well as PET imaging to determine the amount of inflammation in atherosclerosis plaque.

 Atherosclerosis is a condition in which cholesterol builds up in your arteries. Eventually this build-up can cause a heart attack or stroke.

 The CT imaging was able to tell researchers the size of the plaque. It could also tell whether the plaque was causing narrowing of the arteries, and whether cells were becoming inflamed.

 The PET scan told researchers whether the plaque was dangerous and how likely it was to lead to future problems in patients.

 Using both scans together helped doctors to better understand the state of disease and how best to treat it.

 And in another study, researchers at Emory University used a new imaging technique that gives a 3D view of the heart.

 This is exciting, because a 3D view can reveal so much more detail than traditional images in two dimensions.

 These 3D images are also in color, giving the most realistic picture of the heart doctors have yet been able to use to diagnose disease.

 Team leader Dr. Rudd said both these imaging techniques show great promise because if doctors can detect disease in the heart earlier, heart attacks and strokes could be prevented.

 Both studies were revealed at the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s annual meeting in Washington.

 One more study presented at the meeting used combined imaging, but this time the subject was the brain.

 PET scans and MR images were used to map the brain. Again, combining both imaging techniques represents a leap forward. Pictures of the brain, when using this technique, also showed greater detail. And the more detail, the better potential for detecting disease.