Positron emission tomography–magnetic resonance imaging

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Computer screenshot showing a PET image (upper left), MRI image (upper right) and the combined PET-MRI image where PET data is overlaid over the MRI data (lower right)

Positron emission tomography–magnetic resonance imaging (PET-MRI) is a hybrid imaging technology that incorporates magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) soft tissue morphological imaging and positron emission tomography (PET) functional imaging.[1]


Presently, the main clinical fields of PET-MRI are oncology,[2][3][4] cardiology[5] and neurology.[6][7][8] Research studies are actively conducted at the moment to understand benefits of the new PET-MRI diagnostic method. The technology combines the exquisite structural and functional characterization of tissue provided by MRI with the extreme sensitivity of PET imaging of metabolism and tracking of uniquely labeled cell types or cell receptors. There is discussion and investigation into utilizing PET-MR with Ion Therapy for the purpose of cancer treatment.[9] with[10][11] MRI's ability to accurately depict the proton density of tissue is a good match for the benefits and technical challenges of treatment planning utilizing Ion Therapy systems.


Currently four companies offer combined PET-MR systems: Philips, Siemens, GE and MR Solutions. The first two clinical whole body PET-MRI systems were installed by Philips at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in the United States[12] and at Geneva University Hospital in Europe in 2010.[13][14] One company, Cubresa, offers an MR-compatible preclinical PET scanner called NuPET™ for use in the bore of an existing MRI, enabling simultaneous PET/MR image acquisition. The first instrument was installed at the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre in Halifax, Canada in 2016, and more systems have since been installed.[15]

Clinical systems[edit]

Currently Siemens and GE are the only companies to offer a fully integrated whole body and simultaneous acquisition PET-MRI system. The Siemens system (Biograph mMR) received a CE mark[16] and FDA approval[17] for customer purchase in 2011.

The GE system (SIGNA PET/MR) received its 510K & CE mark in 2014.

The first fully RoHS compliant system was delivered in 2014. Over sixty facilities have since installed this technology.

Preclinical systems[edit]

Currently, the combination of positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a hybrid imaging modality is receiving great attention not only in its emerging clinical applications but also in the preclinical field. Several designs based on several different types of PET detector technology have been developed in recent years, some of which have been used for first preclinical studies.[18][19][20]

A preclinical PET-MRI system with sequential acquisition is commercially available from Mediso Medical Imaging Systems since 2011. The first nanoScan PET-MRI system was installed at Karolinska Experimental Research and Imaging Centre of Karolinska Institutet in March 2011. The compact imaging system utilizes magnetically shielded position sensitive photomultiplier tubes and a compact 1 Tesla permanent magnet MRI platform. The integration has no adverse effects on the PET or on the MRI performance due to increased magnetic shielding of the PET component and low fringe field of the MRI component based on the performance evaluation of the system.[21] Bruker Biospin, in collaboration with the University of Tübingen, have produced commercial prototype systems for their preclinical MRI magnets utilizing a Siemens PET platform. The first such system comprising a 7T Clinscan MRI with the PET insert was installed at the CAI in Brisbane Australia in 2012.

MR Solutions' cryogen-free PET-MRI system

MR Solutions’ high field, cryogen-free MRI system with an in-line PET module was installed at the University of Michigan in January 2016 and at the Georges-François Leclerc center in Dijon, France in February 2016. Data is acquired sequentially and co-registered together automatically.

The aforementioned NuPET™ MR-compatible preclinical scanner from Cubresa is designed to fit into a variety of existing MRI magnets, including those originally used for clinical imaging. Uniquely, this system enables simultaneous PET/MRI acquisition, allowing researchers to generate structural, functional, and molecular data that is both partially and temporally registered and acquired under identical physiological conditions. It can also be used as a compact, standalone PET scanner.

Hybrid PET MRI systems require special devices that balance tradeoffs between PET attenuation and MRI performance.

PET-MRI versus PET-CT[edit]

Comparisons have been made between PET-MRI and PET-CT, some sources stating that PET-MRI is simply an X-ray radiation-free version of PET-CT (PET-MRI has as well Radiation from Biomarker). In reality, there are differences beyond X-ray radiation dose.[22]

This article written at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland provides very good information on the technical differences between CT, MRI and PET and their combinations. It also references the advantages of simultaneous or single unit sequential over traditional sequential.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Antoch, Gerald; Bockisch, Andreas (2008). "Combined PET/MRI: a new dimension in whole-body oncology imaging?". European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. 36 (S1): 113–120. ISSN 1619-7070. doi:10.1007/s00259-008-0951-6. 
  2. ^ Buchbender C; Heusner TA; Lauenstein TC; Bockisch A; et al. (June 2012). "Oncologic PET/MRI, part 1: tumors of the brain, head and neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis". Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 53 (6): 928–38. PMID 22582048. doi:10.2967/jnumed.112.105338. 
  3. ^ Buchbender C; Heusner TA; Lauenstein TC; Bockisch A; et al. (August 2012). "Oncologic PET/MRI, part 2: bone tumors, soft-tissue tumors, melanoma, and lymphoma". Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 53 (8): 1244–52. PMID 22782313. doi:10.2967/jnumed.112.109306. 
  4. ^ Martinez-Möller A; Eiber M; Nekolla SG; et al. (September 2012). "Workflow and scan protocol considerations for integrated whole-body PET/MRI in oncology". Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 53 (9): 1415–26. PMID 22879079. doi:10.2967/jnumed.112.109348. 
  5. ^ Rischpler C; Nekolla SG; Dregely I; Schwaiger M (March 2013). "Hybrid PET/MR imaging of the heart: potential, initial experiences, and future prospects". Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 54 (3): 402–15. PMID 23404088. doi:10.2967/jnumed.112.105353. 
  6. ^ http://www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2011/cc-26.htm[full citation needed]
  7. ^ Dimou E; Booij J; Rodrigues M; et al. (June 2009). "Amyloid PET and MRI in Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment". Current Alzheimer Research. 6 (3): 312–9. PMID 19519314. doi:10.2174/156720509788486563. 
  8. ^ Bremner JD; Vythilingam M; Vermetten E; et al. (May 2003). "MRI and PET study of deficits in hippocampal structure and function in women with childhood sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder". The American Journal of Psychiatry. 160 (5): 924–32. PMID 12727697. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.5.924. 
  9. ^ http://www.dkfz.de/en/medphys/heavy_ion_therapy/index.html[full citation needed]
  10. ^ http://www.dkfz.de/en/presse/pressemitteilungen/2013/dkfz-pm-13-23-A-Sharper-Image-with-Combined-PET-MR-Technology.php[full citation needed]
  11. ^ Rank CM; Tremmel C; Hünemohr N; Nagel AM; et al. (2013). "MRI-based treatment plan simulation and adaptation for ion radiotherapy using a classification-based approach". Radiation Oncology. 8: 51. PMC 3702461Freely accessible. PMID 23497586. doi:10.1186/1748-717X-8-51. 
  12. ^ Facilities - Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  13. ^ [1] Archived December 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ PET-MRI scanner opens new frontier in medical imaging
  15. ^ Preclinical PET Scanner Released for Simultaneous PET/MRI in Existing MRI Systems
  16. ^ "Siemens receives CE mark for whole-body molecular MR system". Healthcare Sector, Siemens AG. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  17. ^ "FDA clears new system to perform simultaneous PET, MRI scans". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2014-01-04. 
  18. ^ Judenhofer, Martin S.; Cherry, Simon R. (2013). "Applications for Preclinical PET/MRI". Seminars in Nuclear Medicine. 43 (1): 19–29. PMID 23178086. doi:10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2012.08.004. 
  19. ^ Schulz, Volkmar; Weissler, Bjoern; Gebhardt, Pierre; Solf, Torsten; Lerche, Christoph; Fischer, Peter; Ritzert, Michael; Piemonte, Claudio; Goldschmidt, Benjamin; Vandenberghe, Stefaan; Salomon, Andre; Schaeffter, Tobias; Marsden, Paul (2011). "SiPM based preclinical PET/MR insert for a human 3T MR: first imaging experiments". Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference (NSS/MIC), 2011 IEEE: 4467–4469. doi:10.1109/NSSMIC.2011.6152496. 
  20. ^ Wehner, Jakob; Weissler, Bjoern; Dueppenbecker, Peter; Gebhardt, Pierre; Schug, David; Ruetten, Walter; Kiessling, Fabian; Schulz, Volkmar (2013). "PET/MRI insert using digital SiPMs: Investigation of MR-compatibility". Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment. 734: 116–121. Bibcode:2014NIMPA.734..116W. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2013.08.077. 
  21. ^ Nagy, Kálmán; Tóth, Miklós; Major, Péter; Patay, Győző; Egri, G.; Häggkvist, Jenny; Varrone, Andrea; Farde, Lars; Halldin, Christer; Gulyás, Balázs (2013). "Performance Evaluation of the Small-Animal nanoScan PET/MRI System". Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 54: 1825–1832. doi:10.2967/jnumed.112.119065. 
  22. ^ Pichler, Bernd J.; Judenhofer, Martin S.; Pfannenberg, Christina (2008). "Multimodal Imaging Approaches: PET/CT and PET/MRI". In Semmler, Wolfhard; Schwaiger, Markus. Molecular Imaging I. Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology. 185/1. pp. 109–32. ISBN 978-3-540-72717-0. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-72718-7_6. 
  23. ^ Pichler BJ, Wehrl HF, Kolb A, Judenhofer MS (2008). "Positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging: the next generation of multimodality imaging?". Semin Nucl Med. 38: 199–208. PMC 2762705Freely accessible. PMID 18396179. doi:10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2008.02.001.