Modern imaging techniques provide a highly effective and minimally invasive means of looking in detail into physiological, metabolic and molecular processes in the body.
Not only can many diseases and their stage of progression be identified, but with the aid of specific contrast agents can a more accurate choice of therapy be made, along with faster elucidation of the response to that therapy.
The above images are a perfect example of medical imaging’s power. In the center of the left image a cancer tumour has been clearly delineated. The physician would like to prescribe a specific, and highly effective but very expensive anti-cancer agent. However, this pharmaceutical product is known to only work in a sub-group of patients with this type of tumour. By injecting a trace amount of the medicine attached to a very lightly radioactive contrast agent it can be determined whether the patient will benefit from this treatment or not. The image in the center shows clearly that the medicine has collected at the tumour site and not elsewhere. Based on this information the physician knows that the treatment is warranted and prescribes the medicine. After three months of treatment, it can be seen from the right-hand image that the tumour can no longer be seen, and the treatment has been a success.
In the age of personalised medicine, where individual patients may or not benefit from the various types of therapies available, imaging is a powerful tool in the task of choosing the right treatment, for the right patient, at the right time. This means that patients have a higher chance of successful treatment the first time round, along with faster response measurement. This in turn not only reduces patient stress and worry, but also reduces the cost of treatment by improving success rates and tailoring treatment to the individual patient’s needs.