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Comparison of whole-body PET/CT and PET/MRI in breast cancer patients: lesion detection and quantitation of 18F-deoxyglucose uptake in lesions and in normal organ tissues

Leonardo Pace, Emanuele Nicolai, Angelo Luongo, Marco Aiello, Onofrio A Catalano, Andrea Soricelli, Marco Salvatore
European Journal of Radiology 2014, 83 (2): 289-96
24331845

PURPOSE: To compare the performance of PET/MRI imaging using MR attenuation correction (MRAC) (DIXON-based 4-segment -map) in breast cancer patients with that of PET/CT using CT-based attenuation correction and to compare the quantification accuracy in lesions and in normal organ tissues.

METHODS: A total of 36 patients underwent a whole-body PET/CT scan 1h after injection and an average of 62 min later a second scan using a hybrid PET/MRI system. PET/MRI and PET/CT were compared visually by rating anatomic allocation and image contrast. Regional tracer uptake in lesions was quantified using volumes of interest, and maximal and mean standardized uptake values (SUVmax and SUVmean, respectively) were calculated. Metabolic tumor volume (MTV) of each lesion was computed on PET/MRI and PET/CT. Tracer uptake in normal organ tissue was assessed as SUVmax and SUVmean in liver, spleen, left ventricular myocardium, lung, and muscle.

RESULTS: Overall 74 FDG positive lesions were visualized by both PET/CT and PET/MRI. No significant differences in anatomic allocation scores were found between PET/CT and PERT/MRI, while contrast score of lesions on PET/MRI was significantly higher. Both SUVmax and SUVmean of lesions were significantly higher on PET/MRI than on PET/CT, with strong correlations between PET/MRI and PET/CT data (ρ=0.71-0.88). MTVs of all lesions were 4% lower on PET/MRI than on PET/CT, but no statistically significant difference was observed, and an excellent correlation between measurements of MTV with PET/MRI and PET/CT was found (ρ=0.95-0.97; p<0.0001). Both SUVmax and SUVmean were significantly lower by PET/MRI than by PET/CT for lung, liver and muscle, no significant difference was observed for spleen, while either SUVmax and SUVmean of myocardium were significantly higher by PET/MRI. High correlations were found between PET/MRI and PET/CT for both SUVmax and SUVmean of the left ventricular myocardium (ρ=0.91; p<0.0001), while moderate correlations were found for the other normal organ tissues (ρ=0.36-0.61; p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: PET/MRI showed equivalent performance in terms of qualitative lesion detection to PET/CT. Despite significant differences in tracer uptake quantification, due to either methodological and biological factors, PET/MRI and PET/CT measurements in lesions and normal organ tissues correlated well. This study demonstrates that integrated whole-body PET/MRI is feasible in a clinical setting with high quality and in a short examination time.

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