Warsaw receives PET scanner

Warsaw medical patients will no longer have to go as far as Bydgoszcz or Gliwice to be examined by one of the newest inventions in modern medicine. Warsaw has finally has a PET scanner. PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography, a medical imaging technique which produces three-dimensional images of our internal organs. The technique is considered to be the most sensitive and accurate method for early detection of tumors. The new positron tomograph is already in use in the Mazovian PET-CT Center at the Military Institute of Health Services on ul. Szaser in . The center was created by Euromedic, a pan-European health company. Although the machine is the company’s private property, Euromedic has agreed to hand it over to the institute in 10 years. Some of the expensive examinations will be financed by the National Health Fund.

“We have agreed on a 5 mln zloty contract,” Jerzy Serafin of the Mazovian department of the health fund told the newspaper Zycie Warszawy. This means that until the end of the year about 1,100 patients will be examined for free. Patients can be diagnosed privately as well, as long as they can afford to pay 4.5 thousand zloty per examination.

“The method is intended for specific groups of patients,” Michal Korczeniewski, the marketing director of Euromedic, told Zycie Warszawy. Thus the new equipment is to be used mostly for diagnosing bone metastases, recurrences of ovary and thyroid cancer, epileptogenic foci, etc. The examination is available both to patients who present medical examination referrals from specialists (such as oncologists, cardiologists or neurologists) and ones who do not. The grounds for the examination are always determined separately by doctors in the institute. For the time being, the patients are registered two weeks in advance. The tomograph works two days a week, examining six patients per day. The limited number of examinations and their detailed planning result from the complexity of the procedure and the use of a special substance delivered by plane from Vienna. The chemical is so unstable that after two hours it loses half of its power so that the dose needs to be doubled.

The PET technique locates early cancerous changes with extreme precision, down to level of cells. Such outstanding accuracy accounts for the variety of the method’s applications. It is mostly used in oncology to detect cancer or its metastases and to monitor the effectiveness of the applied therapy. It is also used in diagnosing nervous and cardiovascular diseases. It can identify Alzheimer’s disease more than a year before its clinical symptoms appear. The imaging technique is also most helpful in determining medical treatment of the diagnosed disease. PET is also an important research tool in mapping human brain and heart functions.

The Mazovian PET-CT Center is the first of its kind in Warsaw and the fourth in Poland. The other three operate in Bydgoszcz, Wroclaw and Gliwice. However, two other medical institutions in the Polish capital stand a chance of getting their own PET scanners. The hospital on ul. Banacha and Maria Skbodowska Institute Oncology Center still await the National Health Fund’s decision on financing the equipment. Examinations by positron tomography are already routine in other countries of the EU. Experts estimate that soon up to a mln Europeans will annually benefit from the technique.

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