The simultaneous MRI and PET scanning of the brain can now be performed, says Siemens. Thanks to a new, world’s first fully-functioning device capable of performing both Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET), the breakthrough development will likely further improve the diagnostic power of these imaging modalities, according to the company:
The first in-vivo human brain simultaneous MR-PET images were acquired in the Siemens facilities in USA. Testing of this new prototype MR-PET will start before the end of 2007.
MR-PET presents a tremendous leap forward in imaging capabilities. Siemens is the first company to have realized an MR-PET prototype, which brings the exceptional soft tissue contrast and high specificity of MR together with PET’s excellent sensitivity in assessing physiological and metabolic state. The first MR-PET images were acquired with support of Dr. David Townsend and Dr. Claude Nahmias, both from the University of Tennessee, USA, and Dr. Heinz-Peter Schlemmer, Dr. Claus Claussen and Dr. Bernd Pichler, all from the University Tübingen in Germany. MR-PET 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.
Researchers expect that MR-PET will open new doors in understanding the pathologies and progression of various neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, depression and schizophrenia. For example, PET can currently differentiate mild cognitive impairment from early-stage Alzheimer’s, but cannot determine reduced brain volume caused by atrophy. By combining MR and PET, clinicians may be able to make a more sound determination of both cognitive impairment and atrophy. Furthermore, combining MR-PET and the new emerging neurological biomarkers, has the great potential to strengthen the assessment of the condition.
Similarly, in stroke patients, the technology holds the promise of allowing physicians to study which brain tissues might be salvageable after a stroke. In other rehabilitation settings, such as for patients with traumatic brain injury, the Siemens MR-PET approach would improve care and workflow. In that case, patients would be only scanned once instead of having to go to two different locations and get two subsequent scans. “The ability to determine in great detail the loss of neurological function puts us on the path to better care,” said Maerzendorfer.