Lismore Base Hospital is now the leading regional hospital in Australia after the official opening of the new PET scanner and MRI facilities.

The first machine performs CAT and PET scans.

CAT scans give a 3D image of the body by looking at horizontal 'slices' while PET scans provide images, but also information about how the organs are functioning within the body.

Both technologies allow doctors to detect and treat tumours as small as 5mm and also help with the treatment of other conditions, such as epilepsy.

Senior nuclear medicine scientist at Lismore Base Hospital, Andrew Dixon, explained that patients are injected with a radioactive glucose, which is absorbed by their bodies within an hour.

"Cancer requires a lot of energy to survive so the sugar will go to where any cancer is located in the body."

The scanner then records areas of the body where the radioactive sugar is present and allows to spot cancer at a very early stage.

The first five patients to undergo PET scanners in Lismore will be treated tomorrow.

Another new technology available at Lismore Base from tomorrow is the MRI.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a medical technique that uses nuclear magnetic resonance to image nuclei of atoms inside the body.

MRI radiographer Paul Green said that the technology complements the PET scanner as it "really allows us to look into the soft tissue of the body in detail".

Another MRI radiographer at Lismore Base, Dean Hunt, said that up to 15 patients will have access to the MRI per day.

The new technology was funded by Federal Government ($13m) and NSW Government ($3.3m) and was officially opened today by Page MP Janelle Saffin and Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health, Melinda Pavey MLC.

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