First simultaneous PET/MR images of the brain achieved

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As a world first, researchers from the Universities of Tuebingen and Tennessee and Siemens Medical Solutions acquired PET/MR images of the human brain. The accomplishment was detailed at this week’s SNM 2007 meeting in Washington, D.C.

"PET/MR, acquired in one measurement, presents a tremendous leap forward in imaging capabilities. PET/MR—acquired in one measurement—has the potential to become the imaging modality of choice for neurological studies, certain forms of cancer, stroke and the emerging study of stem cell therapy," said Bernd J. Pichler, associate professor and head of the Laboratory for Preclinical Imaging and Imaging Technology in the Department of Radiology at the University of Tuebingen in Germany.

"We expect that PET/MR will open new doors in understanding the pathologies and progression of various neurological disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy, depression and schizophrenia," he added.

Combined or hybrid technologies—such as PET/CT and SPECT/CT—incorporate both imaging modalities into one machine but conduct the two scans sequentially. "This PET/MR machine—developed by Siemens and which debuted last year—acquires MR and PET scans at the same time, for the same imaging volume and, therefore, produces a higher degree of registration," he said. "The PET/MR system allows simultaneous measurement of anatomy, functionality and biochemistry of the body's tissues and cells, enabling researchers to correlate MR and PET data in a way not previously possible before," he added.

Future possibilities for PET/MR system include enabling clinicians to make a more sound determination of both cognitive impairment and atrophy. Additionally, PET/MR and could be combined with new emerging neurological biomarkers which could strengthen the assessment of the condition, or in stroke patients, the technology could enable physicians to evaluate brain tissues that could be salvaged following a stroke.

Siemens' PET/MR is a non-commercially available prototype dedicated brain PET scanner that is inserted into a commercial 3T MRI scanner. The prototype dedicated brain PET scanner uses a Avalanche Photodiode Detector technology. APD technology renders the PET scanner impervious to magnetic fields while providing excellent PET results.