Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography-computed tomography in oncology

Gerwin P Schmidt, Harald Kramer, Maximilian F Reiser, Christian Glaser
Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging: TMRI 2007, 18 (3): 193-202
The advent of positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) and whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI) has introduced tumor imaging with a systemic and functional approach compared with established sequential, multimodal diagnostic algorithms.Whole-body PET with [18F]-fluoro-2-desoxy-glucose is a useful imaging procedure for tumor staging and monitoring that can visualize active tumor tissue by detecting pathological glucose metabolism. The combination of PET with the detailed anatomical information of multislice computed tomography as dual-modality scanners has markedly increased lesion localization and diagnostic accuracy compared with both modalities as standalone applications.Hardware innovations, such as the introduction of multi-receiver channel whole-body MRI scanners at 1.5 and, recently, 3 T, combined with acquisition acceleration techniques, have made high-resolution WB-MRI clinically feasible. Now, a dedicated assessment of individual organs with various soft tissue contrast, spatial resolution, and contrast media dynamics can be combined with whole-body anatomical coverage in a multiplanar imaging approach. More flexible protocols (eg, T1-weighted turbo spin-echo and short inversion recovery imaging, dedicated lung imaging or dynamic contrast-enhanced studies of the abdomen) can be performed within 45 minutes.Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging has recently been proposed for tumor screening of asymptomatic individuals, and potentially life-changing diagnoses, such as formerly unknown malignancy, have been reported. However, larger patient cohort studies will have to show the cost efficiency and the clinical effectiveness of such an approach.For initial tumor staging, PET-CT has proved more accurate for the definition of T-stage and lymph node assessment, mainly because of the missing metabolic information in WB-MRI. However, new applications, such as magnetic resonance whole-body diffusion-weighted imaging or lymphotropic contrast agents, may significantly increase sensitivity in near future. Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging has shown advantages for the detection of distant metastatic disease, especially from tumors frequently spreading to the liver or brain and as a whole-body bone marrow screening application. Within this context, WB-MRI is highly accurate for the detection of skeletal metastases and staging of multiple myeloma. This article summarizes recent developments of CT/PET-CT and WB-MRI and highlights their performance within the scope of systemic oncological imaging.

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