Clinic has new PET technology

Hattiesburg Clinic has received new PET technology designed to perform faster and produce higher quality images with less radiation exposure to patients, compared to previous equipment.

The clinic’s Heart & Vascular department, located on the third floor of the main clinic, is home to the GE Discovery IQ PET system. The equipment will be primarily used by the department’s providers for cardiac PET exams.

“A cardiac PET, or Positron Emission Tomography, exam is used to evaluate the health of a person’s heart by measuring blood flow to the heart. The results of this type of exam helps the provider determine if follow-up treatment is needed or how to manage treatment for a heart-related condition. That’s why having a machine that produces clearer, better quality scans is important in how we care for our patients,” said Jamie Branch, lead imaging tech for Heart & Vascular.

Branch also noted the other benefits of the new PET system.

“We’re always seeking ways to reduce radiation to the public, and this technology produces a lower radiation exposure,” he said. Branch added that patients would also benefit from a shorter scan time. What once may have taken about two hours would now take approximately 30 minutes with the new system.

“This will be the whole procedure, which includes a resting scan and a stress scan. So there’s a more real-time image,” said Branch.

The system’s PET camera will take pictures of the patient’s heart in both a resting phase and a stress phase. The phases are then compared to assess blood flow through the heart and to look for prior damage to the heart muscle.

A patient’s provider might suggest a cardiac PET scan for multiple reasons, particularly if the patient has been experiencing chest pains or has personal history or family history of a heart condition.

“This is an advanced diagnostic test with technology that’s not offered in a lot of areas around here,” said John Weems, administrator for Heart & Vascular. “It’s not just a major investment for Hattiesburg Clinic but also for our community.”

Weems said the new PET system is typically covered by Medicare and Medicaid and other insurance.