For people living with neurological disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s, it is common to undergo multiple tests to diagnosis and manage their condition. In reality this often means patients might undergo an MRI in one location on one day, and then subsequently be sent for a PET study on a different day in a different location, with long periods of waiting for results and follow-up appointments in between.
In the new Stanford Neuroscience Health Center on Quarry Road, all of those services are located under one roof. Patients can receive imaging studies on the ground floor of the 92,000-square-foot facility, and then head upstairs for clinic or rehabilitation appointments or to the procedure area or infusion suite. That means, parking once and checking in once for multiple appointments and tests.
“Almost every patient with a neurological disorder will need imaging,” said Max Wintermark, MD, professor of radiology and chief of neuroradiology. “The convenience factor of offering imaging in the same location where patients are seen in clinics cannot be underestimated. In the new center, we’re able to offer patients integrated, coordinated care that very practically reduces the amount of time they spend waiting.”
The ground floor imaging suite brings together a full complement of modalities such as CT, Fluoroscopy, General Radiography and Ultrasound. “While the technology itself is not revolutionary,” said Wintermark, “Stanford has invested in the latest, most advanced equipment, which allows us to have higher image quality while administering lower doses of radiation to our patients.”
What is new in imaging is the addition of a Positron Emission Tomography/Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PET/MRI) machine for clinical use. PET/ MRI produces images that are more accurate and detailed than in either technology alone, and with less radiation exposure than a PET/CT scan. It gives doctors simultaneous information about the brain in an incredibly precise manner, helping to improve overall diagnosis and treatment options, said Wintermark. The new technology will help assess a variety of disorders that require doctors to look at both anatomy and function of the brain, including epilepsy and seizures, memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and brain tumors.
In the past, use of the PET/MRI was limited to a small number of patients involved in very specific research protocols. “Having a PET/MRI at the Neuroscience Health Center will make a big difference in the number and type of patients who are able to benefit from this advanced technology,” said Wintermark. “It will also stimulate research, and allow for much faster translation of new findings to the clinical side.”
“Many of the new imaging strategies being developed in our Department are being translated into first-in-man studies, including studies for the PET/MRI scanner,” said Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, chair of radiology. “This will help patients with neurological disorders receive state-of-art care for years to come.”