The EXPLORER, the new full-body scanner created in partnership between University of California Davis and United Imaging Healthcare in Shanghai has officially started producing images.

A hybrid of positron emission tomography (PET) and x-ray computed tomography (CT), EXPLORER delivers whole-body scans in under 20 to 30 seconds. Most PET imaging systems are slow to develop each single slice of image, and once all the pieces of the images are generated then it takes around 30 to 40 minutes to be compiled into a principal three-dimensional image. This lag time makes it very challenging for physicians to assess the body in real time.

Other specialized features include blood flow and glucose measurement in real time throughout the body. It also boasts a highly sensitive scanning system, allowing technicians to perform necessary scans without using the conventional high doses of radiation tracers. Its unique sensitivity can target specific molecular sites that are usually impossible for other scanners to identify.

“The level of detail was astonishing, especially once we got the reconstruction method a bit more optimized,” says Ramsey Badawi, PhD, chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine at UC Davis Health. “We could see features that you just don’t see on regular PET scans. And the dynamic sequence showing the radio-tracer moving around the body in three dimensions over time was, frankly, mind-blowing. There is no other device that can obtain data like this in humans, so this is truly novel.”