The New Wave of Imaging

Hybrid Modalities

For many years, traditional medical imaging modalities were used to detect abnormalities and diagnose disease. Now, hybrid modalities combine the power of two imaging technologies into one, providing an even more comprehensive and highly detailed view inside the body.

Examples

The combination of single photon emission computed tomography and magnetic resonance (SPECT/MR) holds promise for soft-tissue contrast imaging by augmenting the information provided by CT alone to optimize research and patient care. With spatial resolution of less than one millimeter, SPECT/MR can be used for a wide range of soft-tissue imaging, from detecting inflammation and infection to diagnosing cancer, cardiovascular disease and endocrine disorders. Among its other advantages: low radiation dose and the ability to be used for a wide range of soft-tissue imaging, from detecting inflammation and infection to diagnosing cancer, cardiovascular disease and endocrine disorders.

Together, single photon emission computed tomography and positron emission tomography (SPECT/PET) provide extremely high resolution images, revealing details of cells and organs as small as a half a millimeter. This unprecedented level of detail can help diagnose cancer earlier, so patients can receive timely treatment. SPECT/PET is currently only in use for animal studies, but scientists remain optimistic about the potential for using the hybrid modality in humans.

Positron emission tomography combined with magnetic resonance (PET/MR) imaging enables better detection of cancer recurrences by combining PET’s capacity to show molecular events with MR’s ability to identify precise organ position. This hybrid technology also produces images with better resolution, especially in soft tissue contrast, so tumors can be detected earlier. When used for men with prostate tumors, radiation exposure dropped.

Combining positron emission tomography with computed tomography (PET/CT) provides detailed images of internal structures as well as signs of abnormal activity, enabling better detection of tumors and more accurate staging of cancer. These hybrid scans are increasingly being used to better target areas for biopsy, assist in designing the most effective radiation therapy regimen and determine long-term prognosis.

A study published in the December 2010 American Journal of Roentgenology found that whole-body PET/CT scans could lead to more accurate staging and restaging of cancer than can be achieved with the more routine scans that run from the base of the skull to the upper thigh.

PET/CT

When PET/MR was used to treat men with prostate tumors, radiation exposure dropped.