Positron Emission Tomography Centre

About Us

About Us

The Newcastle Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Centre houses a clinical PET-CT scanner (Siemens Biograph-40). It is used for academic and commercial research applications.

The scanner was installed at the University in 2007, with funding from the then regional development agency, One North East. It is located in Building 15 on the Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality at the Newcastle General Hospital site. 

Operation of the PET-CT scanner involves co-operation between Newcastle University and the NHS, especially the Regional Medical Physics Department and the Northern Centre for Cancer Care .

Applications of Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

PET is now a widely accepted method for diagnosis of several types of cancer. When used in this way, patients are given an injection containing a very short-lived radioactive form of glucose (18F-labelled fluoro-deoxyglucose or FDG). The patient needs to rest, typically for an hour, while the FDG is allowed to metabolise in the body.

We exploit the tendency of cancer cells to take up and use glucose much more than normal, resting tissues such that the PET images help to show the location and size of tumours. The method is very sensitive (only trace amounts of FDG are needed) and is one type of molecular imaging. In general, PET images could be obtained from a wide variety of different radio-labelled molecules, so we refer to this method as FDG-PET.

Although the 'molecular images' of FDG uptake provide important information, they do not give any detail of anatomy. This is done by combining with X-ray computed tomography (CT). The PET-CT scanner is simply two imaging machines joined together, with a single bed used to automatically move the patient between them.

The Siemens Biograph-40 scanner has extremely high technical specifications for PET and also very high CT capability. Accessories for patient positioning, including compatibility with radiotherapy planning and MRI, and for cardiac and respiratory gating have also been purchased.

The Newcastle PET-CT scanner is primarily for academic and commercial research applications. In the initial phase, these are likely to be cancer research studies. Yet, rather than being restricted to routine diagnostic use, FDG-PET-CT is used in areas such as:

  • evaluation of new anti-cancer drugs
  • incorporation into radiotherapy planning
  • application to other disease types, such as ageing, neuroscience and cardiology
  • co-ordination with other functional and molecular imaging studies, especially using Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy

As new tracers become available, these will provide even more specific tools to investigate or diagnose a broad range of diseases. We will also be able to check whether new drugs are hitting the targets they have been designed for.

For any clinical or research enquiries, contact us.