(Philadelphia, PA) - Clinical researchers from
the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS)
are the first to combine fMRI and PET scanning in radiology, creating
a way to compare different measurements of the brain’s function
concurrently. This analysis could lead to better diagnosis and treatment
in patients suffering from brain disorders, like Alzheimer’s
using these two established methods, we now have an integrated way
to look at the brain’s functions,” explained Andrew
Newberg, MD, a radiologist in nuclear medicine at UPHS
and lead author on this clinical study. “We can now get a
more comprehensive view of what’s happening in the brain at
a particular time, than we’ve ever been able to do before.
We can look at more diseases and more activation states.”
The work combines the functional imaging of fMRI (functional magnetic
resonance imaging), which captures the blood flow in the brain,
and PET scanning (positron emission tomography), which looks at
the glucose metabolism in the brain. “Normally, these two
measures are coupled, or paired together. The more metabolism you
have, the more blood flow,” adds Newberg. “But there
are times the two don’t match up with each other like with
stroke, seizure disorders, or neurodegenerative disorders. That’s
what led us to this new technique so that we can explore 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 PET scan WHILE the patient is already inside an fMRI scanner.
During the time that material is being taken up in the brain, radiologists
are acquiring the fMRI image. Then, when that is complete, radiologists
take the patient immediately to the PET scanner, to retrieve the
“We have both machines available to us and have now put them
together in a way that works,” adds Newberg. “We can
take the results of the simultaneous fMRI and PET scans and come
up with two separate results and compare them for a new look at
the brain. Using this technique, you capture the exact same moment
in the brain with both scans. It will help to show us what the relationship
is between metabolism and blood flow. Do those two really match
up in large majority of conditions?”
Newberg said one goal of this new simultaneous fMRI-PET scan is
to better understand the effect of certain medications on the brain
and body. The clinical research for this study has been conducted
through the PET Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
and through the Center for Functional Neuroimaging (CFN), known
for its excellence in multi-disciplinary brain imaging.
The results of this study can be found on-line at: www.sciencedirect.com
(launches in new window). The study will also be published in
the November 1st issue of NeuroImage.
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