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Biomed Imaging Interv J. 2007 Jul;3(3):e49. doi: 10.2349/biij.3.3.e49. Epub 2007 Jul 1.

Hybrid imaging is the future of molecular imaging.

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Centre for Molecular Imaging and Translational Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Victoria, Australia.


Correlative imaging has long been used in clinical practice and particularly for the interpretation of nuclear medicine studies wherein detailed anatomical information is often lacking. Previously, side-by-side comparison or software co-registration techniques were applied but suffered from technical limitations related to the differing geometries of the imaging equipment, differences in the positioning of patients and displacement of mobile structures between studies. The development of the first hybrid PET and CT device struck a chord with the medical imaging community that is still ringing loudly throughout the world. So successful has been the concept of PET-CT that none of the major medical imaging manufacturers now offers stand-alone PET scanners. Following close behind this success, SPECT-CT devices have recently been adopted by the nuclear medicine community, already compelled by the benefits of hybrid imaging through their experience with PET-CT. Recent reports of adaptation of PET detectors to operate within the strong magnetic field of MRI scanners have generated further enthusiasm. Prototype PET-MRI devices are now in development. The complementary anatomical, functional and molecular information provided by these techniques can now be presented in an intuitive and aesthetically-pleasing format. This has made end-users more comfortable with the results of functional imaging techniques than when the same information is presented independently. Despite the primacy of anatomical imaging for locoregional disease definition, the molecular characterisation available from PET and SPECT offers unique complementary information for cancer evaluation. A new era of cancer imaging, when hybrid imaging will be the primary diagnostic tool, is approaching.


FDG; PET; SPECT; hybrid imaging; oncology; tomography

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