Philadelphia, PA -- Clinical researchers from the University ofPennsylvania Health System (UPHS) are the first to combine fMRI and PETscanning in radiology, creating a way to compare different measurementsof the brain's function concurrently. This analysis could lead tobetter diagnosis and treatment in patients suffering from braindisorders, like Alzheimer's disease.
"By using these two established methods, we now have an integrated wayto look at the brain's functions," explained Andrew Newberg, MD, aradiologist in nuclear medicine at UPHS and lead author on thisclinical study. "We can now get a more comprehensive view of what'shappening in the brain at a particular time, than we've ever been ableto do before. We can look at more diseases and more activation states."
The work combines the functional imaging of fMRI (functional magneticresonance imaging), which captures the blood flow in the brain, and PETscanning (positron emission tomography), which looks at the glucosemetabolism in the brain. "Normally, these two measures are coupled, orpaired together. The more metabolism you have, the more blood flow,"adds Newberg. "But there are times the two don't match up with eachother like with stroke, seizure disorders, or neurodegenerativedisorders. That's what led us to this new technique so that we canexplore many different aspects of the brain's function."
So how does this new simultaneous imaging approach actually work?Radiologists inject a patient with radioactive material used for a PETscan WHILE the patient is already inside an fMRI scanner. During thetime that material is being taken up in the brain, radiologists areacquiring the fMRI image. Then, when that is complete, radiologiststake the patient immediately to the PET scanner, to retrieve the PETimage.
"We have both machines available to us and have now put them togetherin a way that works," adds Newberg. "We can take the results of thesimultaneous fMRI and PET scans and come up with two separate resultsand compare them for a new look at the brain. Using this technique, youcapture the exact same moment in the brain with both scans. It willhelp to show us what the relationship is between metabolism and bloodflow. Do those two really match up in large majority of conditions?"
Newberg said one goal of this new simultaneous fMRI-PET scan is tobetter understand the effect of certain medications on the brain andbody. The clinical research for this study has been conducted throughthe PET Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania andthrough the Center for Functional Neuroimaging (CFN), known for itsexcellence in multi-disciplinary brain imaging.
The results of this study can be found on-line at: www.sciencedirect.com . The study will also be published in the November 1st issue of NeuroImage.
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