MR/PET

Hoag is proud to announce that it is the first hospital on the West Coast to routinely offer patients a revolutionary hybrid technology that will forever change the way neurology, cancer and cardiac patients are diagnosed and treated.

Positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (MR/PET), is an innovative imaging technology that will help in early and accurate diagnosis of various cancers, degenerative neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, mild traumatic brain injury and heart disease. MR/PET will also help physicians tailor treatment options to ensure patients receive the care that will most likely work best for them.

MR/PET is a hybrid imaging technology that combines in one instrument the superior MR imaging of structure, and imaging of tissue metabolism on a molecular level offered by PET. By creating simultaneous PET and MRI data, the new technology provides more detailed information than either technique can alone, in one step. This eliminates the need for multiple tests.

The structural and molecular information from a MR/PET will help cardiologists and surgeons quickly and efficiently determine who could best benefit from surgery following a heart attack. The applications for neurology include more definitively diagnosing a traumatic brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease through identifying the presence of certain molecular deposits in the brain and how the brain is utilizing energy.

In cancer, MR/PET's ability to see specific molecules in the body will allow us to target disease in a much more patient-specific, individualized manner, leading to better and more efficient cancer treatment. Oncologists will favor this new technology for patients who now have to undergo a battery of tests, including PET and CT scans, both of which use ionized radiation.

What to Expect

Resting Phase

The entire MR/PET procedure typically lasts 2-3 hours. It begins with an injection of a tiny amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) “tracer” solution that enables evaluation of glucose metabolism (function) in the body. There are no known side effects to this injection. Once injected, you will be asked to rest in a quiet room and avoid significant movement or talking, which may alter the localization of the tracer. The resting period lasts approximately 60 min.

Imaging Phase

The MR/PET scanner is very similar in size to an MR scanner. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces images of the body’s internal structures by passing radio waves through a powerful magnetic field. Differing frequencies of radio waves are produced by the different body structures, in return, these are mapped and converted into digital images by a computer. MRI is especially good for imaging soft tissues in the body, including the brain, nerves, muscles and organs.

You will be lying on your back on a movable table that slides into the center of the machine. The technologist may use straps or bolsters to help you stay still and maintain proper positioning during the examination. He or she may place a device called a coil around the part of the body being studied. This device sends and receives the radio waves which are used to generate the image.

The imaging phase will take approximately 60 minutes in the scanner. In some cases, more than one scan is required; you will be notified of the number of scans at the time of injection. Your total time commitment will be approximately 2 hours and reports should be in your doctor's office within 48 hours.

The MR/PET scanner is noisy. You will be given a set of earplugs or headphones to wear during the examination to reduce the noise. It is important that you follow the technologist's instructions. You will be asked to remain still multiple times throughout the examination while each sequence is being performed. If you are claustrophobic (have a fear of being closed-in), you may want to discuss the option of receiving sedation for the study with your physician prior to your appointment. Some studies require the administration of contrast material into the vein. MRI contrast is called gadolinium and is different than the contrast administered for CT scans. A radiology technologist or nurse will place an intravenous line through which he or she will give the contrast.

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