EU wide PET scan guidelines for more inclusive diagnosis and treatment

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Clinicians and researchers at the University Medical Center in Groningen (UMCG) continuously improve PET (positron emission tomography) scan techniques, where radioactive tracers are injected into patients to make specific diseases visible or to monitor current therapies. These techniques are applied for diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases or infection diseases. The improvements and developments in using this PET scan technique however need to be shared, and applied in the same manner throughout various countries in order to make the outcomes comparable, to drive research on diagnostics and improve current therapies.

Clinicians within the BRIDGE programme are involved in translating their knowledge on the efficacy of PET-scanning into guidelines that can be used all over Europe and result in the best possible diagnosis and therapy predictions. These freely available guidelines are adopted as standard of care by a wide range of clinical and imaging societies involved and all centers using the PET technique should adhere to these standards. For this purpose, Prof. Andor Glaudemans was the chair of the Inflammation and Infection Committee (I&I) of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine where he was involved in developing guidelines, recommendations and diagnostic flowcharts for the optimal use of nuclear medicine imaging in I&I.

Implementing guidelines

To ensure the use and uptake of these guidelines and recommendations, Prof. Glaudemans and his colleagues  provide education and training for nuclear medicine physicians and organize scientific and educational sessions at imaging and clinical international meetings. Courses, workshops and webinars are given in collaboration with the European School of Multimodality Imaging and Therapy (ESMIT).

Prof. Glaudemans is also involved in quality audits of multiple centers in the Netherlands and he acts as a reviewer for various journals to ensure that new studies use the standard. Just recently, he was appointed as president of the Dutch Society of Nuclear Medicine (NVNG).

The impact of using the same guidelines

Although a great deal of effort already went into the translation of these guidelines into practice, there are no numbers available yet that show the actual use of it. Prof. Glaudemans mentions: “Using these techniques according to guidelines will enable us to improve diagnosis and therapy of various diseases on an European level. Currently, we are working on a survey in which we will ask all centers in nuclear medicine across Europe whether they adhere to the guidelines and to which of them.”

One of the guidelines in which Prof. Glaudemans and his team are involved is the EANM guideline on peripheral bone infection (Glaudemans et al, 2020,) which is based on research conducted in the BRIDGE programme (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2018.03.018 and https://doi.org/10.1007/s00259-018-4218-6). In order to show the impact of these guidelines for the clinic, based on this guideline, prospective studies comparing the imaging techniques are now being conducted (IFI trial, https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-027772).