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PET/MR Imaging May Improve Accuracy, Overall Patient Care than PET/CT

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Based on a study published in the December 2013 issue of Radiology, when comparing PET/CT, PET/MR imaging could provide more accurate diagnosis and staging of patients with cancer, as well as improve overall patient care.

The introduction of joint, hybrid PET/MR scanners in 2011 allowed for the advantages of each imaging system to be positioned in one place. However, the scanner’s potential value and role in clinical practice are still being determined.

“MR imaging has a superior soft-tissue contrast-to-noise ratio when compared to that of CT, which enables detailed evaluation of soft tissues with the abdomen, pelvis, and central nervous system. Moreover, MR imaging affords us the opportunity to evaluate tissue function with diffusion-weighted imaging, MR spectroscopy, and perfusion-weighted imaging. These MR features, combined with the metabolic information from PET, suggest the potential for PET/MR imaging to have an extensive effect on patient care,” wrote the study’s lead author, Onofrio A. Catalano, MD, of the SDN Istituto Ricerca Diagnostica Nucleare of Naples, Italy, and colleagues.

The authors conducted a retrospective study to compare and contrast the relative clinical impact of PET/MR imaging to that of PET/CT performed on the same day in patients with cancer. The study’s population consisted of 134 patients with cancer with a non-central nervous system primary neoplasm. Participants received same-day fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET/CT and FDG PET/MR imaging.

The imaging studies were separately interpreted by teams of radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians. The referring physician then noted the differences between PET/CT and PET/MR observations as either discoveries that influenced clinical management or findings that had no affect on clinical management.

Results pointed out that two of the 134 patients had findings that affected clinical management on PET/CT, but not on PET/MR. While, findings that affected clinical management noted on the PET/MR studies, but not noted on the PET/CT studies were found in 24 of the 134 patients. The inconsistencies between findings that affected clinical management detected with PET/MR imaging over those detected with PET/CT were statistically important.

“In summary, in 17.9 percent of the patients with cancer in our selected population, PET/MR imaging furnished information, especially on staging of the liver, lymph nodes, and pelvis, that was unavailable with PET/CT and that affected clinical management,” the authors concluded.


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