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A report by the National Health Technology Advisory Panel (NHTAP).
Positron emission tomography (PET)is a high cost diagnostic imaging technology based on cyclotron-produced radioisotopes. It has been used in research for a number of years. In the USA, there is now an increasing trend toward its use as a routine clinical tool.
Two Australian hospitals plan to establish PET units during 1991:
There is evidence that PET provides relevant diagnostic information in several clinical applications including:
In neurological applications, PET has been used in patient management at some overseas centres for some years, but there has been little comparison with alternatives, particularly single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). In cardiac applications further studies are needed to determine whether PET has advantages for patient management and outcome in comparison with alternatives, particularly new SPECT techniques.
The cost of PET per study depends largely on throughput. At a realistic throughput of 1200 studies per unit per year, the cost would be about $1,900 per study. Many patients would require two to three studies. ·
Offsetting savings associated with the use of PET can be identified, but these are unlikely to amount to more than 30 per cent of costs.
It is not considered that a sufficient case has yet been established for the routine use of PET as a clinical service in Australia. Further evaluation is needed of PET as a clinical tool, but it is suggested that there could be some value in using the technology as a primary reference method in developing applications of lower cost techniques.
Although Commonwealth funding has been sought for the operating costs of the two proposed PET units the approaches from the hospitals were made prior to the establishment of the Nationally Funded Centres Program by the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council, and the proposals were not assessed on that basis.
It is considered that, if one or both PET units are established:
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