As the average age of the US population increases, so do the diseases which occur in those over 50, many of which are at the very least severely debilitating and, at worst, terminal. This upward trend in diseases — ranging from cancer to dementia — has fueled interest in advanced imaging and treatment techniques which combine to increase the quality of life during one’s later years as well as length of survival.
Last year, the University of Florida’s College of Medicine collaborated in a joint project with Clinical PET of Ocala, which operates six PET/ CT centers in central Florida, to provide the highest standards of diagnostic imaging available — cutting-edge technology which is still lacking in many areas of our nation. Dr. Ganesh Arora, a Gainesville radiation physicist and owner of Clinical PET, collaborated with UF to recruit Dr. Avery Brinkley Jr., an experienced diagnostic radiologist with nuclear radiology expertise, as the first physician to live in Ocala and staff his facilities full-time in anticipation of the future opening ofRadiological Institute of Ocala (RIO). It is anticipated that RIO will open early next year on Highway 200. Dr. Linda Lanier, Associate Professor and Associate Chairman Department of Radiology at the University of Florida, College of Medicine and Chairman of Radiology, Shands at AGH is the medical director of the project.
Dr. Brinkley, born and raised in Georgia and the son of a general radiologist, graduated from Emory University School of Medicine magna cum laude and completed a four-year residency in diagnostic radiology at Washington University/Barnes Hospital Radiology in St. Louis, Missouri in 1980. After extensive medical work in Florida’s Panhandle hospitals, he and his wife Cara accepted UF’s offer to join Clinical PET and its recent addition, Cardiovascular Imaging (CVI). The “sweet spot” according to Dr. Brinkley is the subspecialty staff backup at UF.
At Clinical PET the goal is to provide the highest quality studies for patients who may have or have had a diagnosis of cancer. PET combined with CT scanning — known as fusion scanning — allows better sensitivity and specificity compared to PET alone and is now instrumental in diagnosing, staging and follow up of certain tumors.
During the past year Dr. Brinkley has perfected interpretation of PET scans of the brain for evaluation of dementias including, but not limited to, Alzheimer’s by attending UCLA where he was tutored by Dr. Daniel Silverman, world renowned for his research and clinical work inthis field.
“Add to this the new quantification software which allows better visualization or confirmation of abnormalities suspected visually and we have the ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease some 3-5 years before it is confirmed clinically,” says Dr. Brinkley.
This is a boon for early counseling of patients and their family members as they prepare to deal with this progressive debilitating condition. Furthermore, early and correct diagnosis allows initiation of drug therapies which may slow the progression of the disease. Just as important, these studies can differentiate Alzheimer’s from other neurodegenerative disorders which may be treated quite differently.
Since Dr. Brinkley arrived, Clinical PET has installed the first 64 slice CT scanner in Ocala and offers coronary artery CT angiography as well as high resolution evaluations of other blood vessels, including the arteries in the neck, abdomen and lower extremities in addition to the usual more common head and body CT scans.
“This high resolution CT scanner also allows us to more accurately evaluate patients who have undergone PET/CT as we diagnose and stage cancerous tumors,” says Dr. Brinkley. “It is exceedingly fast and patients are pleasantly surprised to find how easily these scans are tolerated.”
Clinical PET and CVI offer all types of CT imaging with or without intravenous contrast and they are proud to have Steve Rubel, a CT tech with unparalleled experience in vascular imaging, as part of the staff. Interpretations and reporting occur within one day for routine cases and Clinical PET and CVI offer immediate reports for urgent situations.
Other offerings at Clinical PET of Ocala include digital mammography and ultrasound studies. The RIO project will include the most advanced tomographic dose-modulated radiotherapy units and will also be staffed by UF radiation oncologists.
Inquiries and appointments can be made by contacting Clinical PET of Ocala at 291-0014 or CVI at 861-4602 Monday-Friday. Dr. Brinkley welcomes all patient questions and inquiries.
Clincal PET of Ocala
352-291-0014 or 352-861-4602
3233 SW 33rd Road, Suite 301
(Off SR 200, behind the Paddock Mall)
Ocala, FL 34474