BACKGROUND: Both 18F-fluoro-deoxy-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are routinely used in the evaluation of memory clinic patients. Hybrid PET/MR systems now allow simultaneous PET and MRI imaging within the duration of the PET emission scan.
PURPOSE: To compare the diagnostic yield of PET/MRI using an abbreviated MR protocol with that of separate PET and CT in a mixed memory clinic population, and the propagated influences on clinical diagnosis and patient management.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Consecutive memory clinic patients (n = 78) undergoing both CT and hybrid FDG PET/MRI scans were identified retrospectively. MRI and CT were separately evaluated for vascular and structural pathology. PET scans were classified according to the presence of neurodegenerative or vascular disease using CT or MRI, respectively, for anatomical guiding. A memory clinic expert assessed the clinical impact of the additional findings and/or change of PET classification achieved by MRI anatomical guiding as compared to CT guiding.
RESULTS: MRI lead to significantly higher Fazekas scores, higher medial temporal and global cortical atrophy scores, and identified more patients with infarcts (28 vs 8, p<0.001) compared to CT. MRI changed PET classification in 13 (17%) patients. Addition of MRI to CT had minor clinical impact in 4/78 (5%) and major clinical impact in 13/78 (17%) of patients.
CONCLUSION: The study demonstrates the capabilities of PET/MRI systems for routine clinical imaging of memory clinic patients, and that even an abbreviated hybrid PET/MRI protocol provides significant additional information influencing clinical diagnosis and patient management in a substantial fraction of patients when compared to separate PET and CT.