Group offers guidelines on qualifications

After obtaining additional education and proving his or her competency, any registered nuclear medicine technologist, radiographer or radiation therapist is qualified to operate hybrid imaging equipment such as PET-CT machines, according to a group of experts that met recently to discuss issues surrounding the new and rapidly growing field of fusion imaging.

Group participants reached their conclusions at a July 31 meeting convened in New Orleans by the Society of Nuclear Medicine Technologist Section and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

The participants' goal was to make recommendations concerning the education, qualifications and regulation of personnel who operate PET-CT, SPECT-CT and other hybrid imaging equipment. After studying the issues, participants found that they could not recommend one particular type of technologist over any other. Instead, they determined that any registered nuclear medicine technologist, radiographer or radiation therapist would be capable of performing the examinations with appropriate additional education.

"It is wrong to say that only a nuclear medicine technologist or only a CT technologist should be performing these examinations," said Frances Keech, M.B.A., R.T.(N), president of the SNMTS. "The reality is, fusion imaging is a new type of technology that requires a new type of technologist."

Fusion imaging combines two independent imaging modalities to produce a diagnostically and clinically superior image. The most common type of fusion imaging today is performed on hybrid equipment that combines a nuclear medicine procedure known as positron emission tomography, or PET, with computed tomography, or CT. The PET portion of the examination provides physiological information about an organ's metabolic function, while the CT portion of the exam provides information about the organ's anatomy.

"PET-CT and other types of fusion examinations allow us to depict the human body w

Contact: Karen Lubieniecki
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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