PET-CT Imaging Scan: Dr Gwen Ramokgopa (red dress) testing the scan in the presence of Professor Trevor Mdaka (black suit) and Dr Freddy Kgongwana (grey suit)

The Department of Nuclear Medicine at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMAH) and Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) had the official opening ceremony of the Positron Emission Tomography – Computed Tomography (PET-CT) Centre. The PET-CT scan is used mainly in Oncology (cancer) patients and allows for more accurate diagnosis, staging and monitoring of response to therapy. It can also be used in Neurology, Cardiology and Infection/Inflammation.

“There was a need for a stand-alone PET-CT Centre, and we cannot undermine all sponsors and stakeholders that made this event possible”, said Prof Trevor Mdaka, Head of Department of Nuclear Medicine at SMU. As a program director and officiator of the event, he also mentioned how this centre will inspire hope for further development in the hospital and that the scanner is a first of its kind in the African Continent, with a high resolution and shorter imaging time aspect of the 64-slice CT Component.

“R36 million has been invested from the National Treasury services grant and I am very excited about this project. Patients from Northern part of Gauteng, North West and Limpopo provinces used to go to Steve Biko Academic Hospital for diagnosis and staging of cancer before treatment. Now they can have the services right here”, said the Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, who cut the ribbon and unveiling of the the plaque. She continued to say that it is important to strengthen this facility, because SMU has highly trained experts and professors who need this kind of modern technology to treat, diagnose and monitor response for cancer treatment.

18F-FDG PET/CT scan from a patient who has Breast Cancer. The scan demonstrates uptake in unsuspected liver metastases

The PET-CT camera is a sophisticated piece of equipment that has two components – a PET and a CT scanner that are housed in a single unit. Patients undergo a whole body scan and the acquired images are then displayed on a specialised computer workstation for interpretation by a Nuclear Medicine Physician. “The combination of the two scanners allows for the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ – the high sensitivity from the PET component (which provides physiological/functional imaging); and the high resolution of the CT component (which provides anatomical localisation and tissue characterisation),” said Dr Aadil Gutta, Principal Specialist and Head of Unit of Molecular Imaging in Nuclear Medicine.

 

Being the second biggest hospital in the country after Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, DGMAH serves up to 1.7 million patients. “It took us nine years to run this project, and this will assist the poorest of the poor to be able access the latest technology in our hospital,” said Dr Freddy Kgongwana, CEO of Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, who is also very happy about the training of next generation of specialists in Nuclear Medicine.