The World's First Full-Body Scanner Quickly Renders Every Organ in 3D

Scientists at the University of California, Davis partnered with the Shanghai-based company United Imaging Healthcare (UIH) to develop a game-changing medical device called EXPLORER. The technology combines positron emission tomography (PET) and X-ray computed tomography (CT) scans to create a 3D render of the entire body, and it does it in about 30 seconds.

According to Design Boom, the EXPLORER technology is 40 times more sensitive than other scanning systems, which allows for faster scans that subject patients to lower doses of radiation. “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,” UC Davis scientist and one of EXPLORER’s developers Simon Cherry said in a statement. “While there is still a lot of careful analysis to do, I think we already know that EXPLORER is delivering roughly what we had promised.” Cherry and his colleague Ramsey Badawi first had the idea for the scanner over a decade ago. In 2011, they received $1.5 million from the National Cancer Institute which got the project off the ground and eventually led to a $15.5 million grant. One very interesting feature that the scientists have been testing with EXPLORER scans is the ability to track drugs tagged with tracers as they move through the body.

“The level of detail was astonishing, especially once we got the reconstruction method a bit more optimized,” said Badawi. “We could see features that you just don’t see on regular PET scans. And the dynamic sequence showing the radiotracer moving around the body in three dimensions over time was, frankly, mind-blowing. There is no other device that can obtain data like this in humans, so this is truly novel.” The quick look at the 3D images has been shared in video form to YouTube, and the researchers are set to present the scans for the first time on November 24 in Chicago at a Radiological Society of North America meeting. The hope is that with more testing and researching, EXPLORER will reach the manufacturing stage and will show up in hospitals around the world in the near future.