The Mayo Clinic CT Clinical Innovation Center is a 3,500-square-foot clinical research facility equipped with state-of-the-art computerized tomography (CT) technology, radiological phantoms and dosimetry devices, and advanced image processing and computing tools.
Within the center, Ph.D.-level CT physicists work with a multidisciplinary, multi-investigator team of physicians, scientists, research fellows and graduate students. This team works together to develop and evaluate new CT imaging technology and clinical applications, with a particular focus on quantitative applications of computerized tomography. The center has a demonstrated track record of extramural funding and successful collaborations with intra- and extramural research teams.
The dual-source CT scanner located in the center is used for translational research activities involving patients and clinical trial participants each morning and for basic research activities, such as scanning of test objects and specimens, each afternoon.
In addition to clinical support space for patient scanning, the CT Clinical Innovation Center has a conference room and library collection. A physics lab houses numerous phantoms, test objects and dosimetry devices.
The director of the CT Clinical Innovation Center is Cynthia H. McCollough, Ph.D. Dr. McCollough oversees technical and scientific aspects of the center, obtains funding for the center, and directs staffing and day-to-day activities.
The medical director is Joel G. Fletcher, M.D. Dr. Fletcher oversees all aspects of patient care and the design and performance of clinical trials.
The CT Clinical Innovation Center was founded in 2004 by Dr. McCollough, a CT physicist with more than two decades of experience in CT imaging, along with Dr. Fletcher, a gastrointestinal radiologist and leader in the Mayo Clinic Department of Radiology's Division of Abdominal Imaging.
The center was founded in partnership with Siemens Healthcare, a leading manufacturer of medical imaging equipment. The partnership allows Mayo Clinic investigators and Siemens scientists to work together toward their mutual goals of developing and using new CT imaging technologies to improve patient care.
Housed within a clinical environment, the center's research team interacts with every aspect of Mayo Clinic's CT clinical practice in order to develop, optimize and translate into practice innovative CT technologies.
Computerized tomography continues to be used primarily to detect and characterize abnormal anatomic structures. One of the main goals of the CT Clinical Innovation Center is to move clinical CT imaging beyond this paradigm by also measuring and quantitating physiological variables and processes. To help advance this goal, the CT Clinical Innovation Center engages in interdisciplinary collaboration among clinical investigators, research scientists and industry partners.
The current CT system in the CT Clinical Innovation Center is a Siemens SOMATOM Definition Flash, which was installed in 2009.
Collaboration with Siemens Healthcare began in 2004 with the installation of the first Siemens Sensation 64 CT system in the United States. Since 2004, two other first-of-their-kind CT systems have been installed in the center: a Definition Dual Source CT, installed in 2006, and a Definition AS+, installed in 2008. Dual-source CT systems are equipped with two tubes.
The current CT system has a minimum gantry rotation time of 0.28 seconds, which allows a temporal resolution of 75 milliseconds. The system can also be used for dual-energy CT imaging, in which the two X-ray tubes are operated at different energies, with one X-ray source typically operating at low energy — 80 or 100 kilovolts (kV) — and the other operating at high energy — 140 kV.
The use of different tube energies allows for the differentiation of materials that might otherwise look the same using traditional CT imaging techniques, such as iodine, calcium and uric acid.
Dual-energy CT techniques are used clinically for automated removal of bone or iodinated contrast material and for the visualization of perfused blood volume. In addition, dual-energy CT can be used to identify the composition of materials in the body, such as renal stone type or uric acid deposits in joints (gout).