A new £16.5m hospital centre which features a state-of-the-art high-resolution scanner has been officially opened.

The Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging Centre in Cardiff offers Welsh patients a high-resolution scanning facility which officials say can track cancers and other tissue in “incredible detail”.

The £1.8m scanner is housed in the centre’s specially-constructed premises, operated by Cardiff University in partnership with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Built by international technology company GE, officials say the device is one of the most advanced of its kind in the UK.

It has been operational for patients across Wales since last September, allowing them access to a service they previously had to travel to England for.

At the launch, Welsh Assembly first minister Carwyn Jones viewed the scanning technology, which allows the detection of tumours when they are just a few millimetres in size.

The centre was funded jointly by the Welsh Assembly government’s departments of Health and of Economy and Transport.

Mr Jones said: “The new PET scanner is one of the most advanced of its kind in the UK. Patients in Wales are already benefiting directly from a technology which allows cancers to be spotted at an earlier stage and in much greater detail. The centre is also a research facility where new scanning and therapeutic techniques will be developed with major partners in international medicine.

“It is an excellent example of the Assembly government, Cardiff University and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board working in partnership to establish Wales as a world leader for the quality of its healthcare.”

The scanner also shows how active tumours are and how patients are responding to therapy - allowing doctors to determine the most appropriate course of treatment, and providing early information to help them change to a different therapy if needed.