Dr. Eugene A. Woltering has announced that the Gallium-68 DOTATATE PET/CT scan is going to be available beginning in the summer of 2014 through The New Orleans Louisiana Neuroendocrine Tumor Specialists (NOLANETS) Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner, Louisiana. This program is an affiliation between Louisiana State University Health Science Center and Ochsner Medical Center.
Used in Europe and Australia, the Gallium-68 (Ga-68) DOTATATE PET/CT scan is a high-resolution scan, able to detect tumors not seen on MRI, PET, CT, or Octreoscans. Because the Gallium agent binds very strongly to the somatostatin receptors 2 and 5 of the neuroendocrine tumor cells, it can more effectively detect very small tumors and metastases. This is very important for NET patients as from the initial onset of symptoms — including gastrointestinal pain, flushing, diarrhea, and asthma-like wheezing — the average time to proper diagnosis exceeds 5 years. It is likely that tumors will spread (metastasize) and grow during this time.
Dr. Richard J. Campeau (pictured), Clinical Professor of Radiology (Nuclear Medicine) and Internal Medicine (Cardiology) at LSU and Tulane University Health Sciences Centers, is the NOLANETS physician who will be the Principal Investigator for this study. The study is approved for approximately 250 subjects over 5 years.
Crediting many groups in the United States for their expertise and assistance, including support from carcinoid/NET specialists Dr. Eric Liu and Dr. Thomas O’Dorisio, Dr. Campeau’s team has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of their IND (Investigational New Drug application) for the Gallium-68 scan clinical trial. The institutional review board (IRB) at Ochsner Medical Center has approved the Gallium-68 clinical study and approval from the IRB at LSU is pending. “Just a few final nuts and bolts to be completed,” says Dr. Woltering, before all is in place to move forward with the study.
What’s next? The equipment needs to be ordered but the finances have been approved from the Ochsner administration, notes Dr. Woltering. At this time all Gallium-68 scans are considered experimental, pending FDA approval in the future. For those who receive the scan, their insurance companies will be billed or patients will be billed individually. The cost of the scan is approximately $4,000.
“So with much happiness and a big kudos to all of the teams who made this day possible,” says Dr. Woltering, “come and get the Gallium-68 scan at NOLANETS!”