Clinical PET/MRI in neurooncology: opportunities and challenges from a single-institution perspective

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PURPOSE: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) plays a key role in neurooncology, i.e., for diagnosis, treatment evaluation and detection of recurrence. However, standard MRI cannot always separate malignant tissue from other pathologies or treatment-induced changes. Advanced MRI techniques such as diffusion-weighted imaging, perfusion imaging and spectroscopy show promising results in discriminating malignant from benign lesions. Further, supplemental imaging with amino acid positron emission tomography (PET) has been shown to increase accuracy significantly and is used routinely at an increasing number of sites. Several centers are now implementing hybrid PET/MRI systems allowing for multiparametric imaging, combining conventional MRI with advanced MRI and amino acid PET imaging. Neurooncology is an obvious focus area for PET/MR imaging.

METHODS: Based on the literature and our experience from more than 300 PET/MRI examinations of brain tumors with (18)F-fluoro-ethyl-tyrosine, the clinical use of PET/MRI in adult and pediatric neurooncology is critically reviewed.

RESULTS: Although the results are increasingly promising, the added value and range of indications for multiparametric imaging with PET/MRI are yet to be established. Robust solutions to overcome the number of issues when using a PET/MRI scanner are being developed, which is promising for a more routine use in the future.

CONCLUSIONS: In a clinical setting, a PET/MRI scan may increase accuracy in discriminating recurrence from treatment changes, although sequential same-day imaging on separate systems will often constitute a reliable and cost-effective alternative. Pediatric patients who require general anesthesia will benefit the most from simultaneous PET and MR imaging.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Translational Imaging
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)135-149
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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