- Volume 36 Issue 1
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine imaging modality that consists of systemic administration to a subject of a radiopharmaceutical labeled with a positron-emitting radionuclide. Following administration, its distribution in the organ or structure under study can be assessed as a function of time and space by (1) defecting the annihilation radiation resulting from the interaction of the positrons with matter, and (2) reconstructing the distribution of the radioactivity from a series of that used in computed tomography (CT). The nuclides most generally exhibit chemical properties that render them particularly desirable in physiological studies. The radionuclides most widely used in PET are F-18, C-11, O-15 and N-13. Regarding to the number of the current PET Centers worldwide (based on ICP data), more than 300 PET Centers were in operation in 2000. The use of PET technology grew rapidly compared to that in 1992 and 1996, particularly in the USA, which demonstrates a three-fold rise in PET installations. In 2001, 194 PET Centers were operating in the USA. In 1994, two clinical and research-oriented PET Centers at Seoul National University Hospital and Samsung Medical Center, was established as the first dedicated PET and Cyclotron machines in Korea, followed by two more PET facilities at the Korea Cancer Center Hospital, Ajou Medical Center, Yonsei University Medical Center, National Cancer Center and established their PET Center. Catholic Medical School and Pusan National University Hospital have finalized a plan to install PET machine in 2002, which results in total of nine PET Centers in Korea. Considering annual trends of PET application in four major PET centers in Korea in Asan Medical Center recent six years (from 1995 to 2000), a total of 11,564 patients have been studied every year and the number of PET studies has shown steep growth year upon year. We had 1,020 PET patients in 1995. This number increased to 1,196, 1,756, 2,379, 3,015 and 4,414 in 1996,1997,1998,1999 and 2000, respectively. The application in cardiac disorders is minimal, and among various neuropsychiatric diseases, patients with epilepsy or dementia can benefit from PET studios. Recently, we investigated brain mapping and neuroreceptor works. PET is not a key application for evaluation of the cardiac patients in Korea because of the relatively low incidence of cardiac disease and less costly procedures such as SPECT can now be performed. The changes in the application of PET studios indicate that, initially, brain PET occupied almost 60% in 1995, followed by a gradual decrease in brain application. However, overall PET use in the diagnosis and management of patients with cancer was up to 63% in 2000. The current medicare coverage policy in the USA is very important because reimbursement policy is critical for the promotion of PET. In May 1995, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) began covering the PET perfusion study using Rubidium-82, evaluation of a solitary pulmonary nodule and pathologically proven non-small cell lung cancer. As of July 1999, Medicare's coverage policy expanded to include additional indications: evaluation of recurrent colorectal cancer with a rising CEA level, staging of lymphoma and detection of recurrent or metastatic melanoma. In December of 2001, National Coverage decided to expand Medicare reimbursement for broad use in 6 cancers: lung, colorecctal, lymphoma, melanoma, head and neck, and esophageal cancers; for determining revascularization in heart diseases; and for identifying epilepsy patients. In addition, PET coverage is expected to further expand to diseases affecting women, such as breast, ovarian, uterine and vaginal cancers as well as diseases like prostate cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
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