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PRODUCED BY AND FOR MEMBERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY May 2017 | Archived Issues

Hybrid PET-MRI Scanner Now Available for Clinical Studies


The Biomedical Imaging Research Institute's PET-MRI scanner is now licensed for clinical imaging.

Cedars-Sinai's PET-MRI scanner, a highly sophisticated diagnostic imaging tool that provides superior image quality and uses low radiation doses, is now licensed for clinical studies. Cedars-Sinai is one of the few medical centers in the United States to be equipped with the hybrid scanner.

Known as the Siemens Biograph mMR, the molecular imaging system simultaneously acquires PET and MRI scans and has been used in research studies at Cedars-Sinai since 2015. The hybrid device, which is housed at the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute (BIRI), generates images registering and fusing the PET's metabolic data with the MRI's anatomical and tissue-characterization data.

“We're pleased and excited that the PET-MRI scanner is now available for clinical studies," said Alessandro D'Agnolo, MD, BIRI clinical director of PET-MRI and nuclear medicine physician at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center. "The ability to fuse exceptional PET and MRI images' data sets can result in more defined diagnoses, particularly in situations where MRI is superior to CT in tissue characterization."

Since both scans are acquired during the same session, patients spend less time undergoing imaging tests and usually experience less stress. The hybrid scanner also reduces radiation exposure by up to two-thirds, something especially beneficial for pediatric patients, said D'Agnolo.

The PET-MRI scanner may be of particular value in oncology, neurology and cardiology, said D'Agnolo.

In oncology, the scanner will improve the ability to evaluate primary and recurrent brain tumors, neck cancers, hepatobiliary cancers, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, sarcomas and multiple myeloma, added D'Agnolo.

With the newly available PET radiotracers, which are used to acquire PET images, PET-MRI could open new frontiers in detecting neuroendocrine tumors and prostate cancer.

"In neurology, PET-MRI is going to be helpful in workups of patients with dementia and epilepsy, and in the future may completely replace PET-CT scans for these conditions," said D'Agnolo.

In cardiology, the hybrid scanner can supply powerful imaging of the heart and inflammatory processes of the vessels, as well as in sarcoidosis.

PET-MRI scans are only available for nonurgent, outpatient cases. Before referring a patient for a PET-MRI scan, physicians should first contact the BIRI coordinator at 310-423-4075.