Radical new 3D body scanner offers first amazing human images

UC Davis scientists, Simon Cherry (left) and Ramsey Badawi, stand with a model of the Explorer scanner.

Lisa Howard / UC Davis

"Explorer" is an appropriate name for what the University of California Davis calls "the world's first medical imaging scanner that can capture a 3D image of the entire human body at a time."

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

"Although I had imagined how the images would look for years, nothing prepared me for the incredible details we saw in the first scan," says Simon Cherry, one of the creators of the machine.

Explorer is much faster than a normal PET scan. It can produce a diagnostic scan of the entire body in less than 30 seconds. The developers of the explorers say it can be used to track the progression of the disease, including the cancer that has spread.

A second video shows Explorer's ability to track an injection of glucose into a vein in his leg.

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

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