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Radical new 3D body scanner delivers startling first human images


UC Davis scientists Simon Cherry (left) and Ramsey Badawi stand with a mock-up of the Explorer scanner.


Lisa Howard/UC Davis

“Explorer” is a fitting name for what the University of California Davis is calling “the world’s first medical imaging scanner that can capture a 3D picture of the whole human body at once.”

The magical machine combines two familiar types of imaging: positron emission tomography (PET) and X-ray computed tomography (CT). The UC Davis scientists behind the scanner released a video look at Explorer’s first human scans this week.

“While I had imagined what the images would look like for years, nothing prepared me for the incredible detail we could see on that first scan,” says Simon Cherry, one of the machine’s creators.

Explorer is much faster than a normal PET scan. It can turn out a whole-body diagnostic scan in less than 30 seconds. Explorer’s developers say it can be used to track disease progression, including cancer that has spread. 

A second video shows Explorer’s ability to trace a glucose injection into a leg vein.

The first Explorer scanner will be installed in Sacramento, California, for use in research projects and human studies starting in 2019.



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