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NIH Uses Photon-Counting CT Scanner in Patients for the First Time

NIH Clinical ct scan

The NIH Clinical Center is investigating the potential use of a new generation computerized tomography (CT) scanner, called a photon-counting detector CT scanner, in a clinical setting. The prototype technology is expected to replicate the image quality of conventional CT scanning, but may also provide health care specialists with an enhanced look inside the body through multi-energy imaging. Patients could receive a minimum amount of radiation, while the maximal amount of information needed would be delivered to health care providers.

Over the next five years, David Bluemke, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, and his team will continue to develop scan protocols and image processing algorithms, which could improve screening, imaging, and treatment planning for health conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“The NIH Clinical Center has helped shape and share research advances and health care for decades. Now is an exciting time for us and for our study participants here in the Clinical Center as we help test and develop this CT technology so that it may one day help patients around the world and impact the health care they receive,” said Dr. Bluemke.

As the world's largest hospital solely dedicated to research, the NIH Clinical Center sees thousands of patients every year, many of whom have rare and complicated illnesses. In the treatment and study of disease, surgery is often viewed as the last option. CT scanning is one way that doctors can examine the body’s internal features in a nonsurgical way. In collaboration with and through a partnership known as a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the manufacturer, Siemens Healthcare, and researchers in the CT technology field, the Clinical Center is testing this technology to help the health care field optimize the scanner for clinical use across the U.S. and around the globe.

The Clinical Center is one of three sites in the world to use this technology, and is the first hospital-based research setting of the device. More than 45 volunteers enrolled in a research protocol have benefited from this cutting-edge equipment. Initial findings have been reported in Radiology.

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