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A PET/MRI scan is a two-in-one test that combines images from a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This new hybrid technology harnesses the strengths of PET and MRI to produce some of the most highly detailed pictures of the inside of your body currently available. Doctors use those pictures to diagnose medical conditions and plan their treatment. For example, PET/MRI scans of the brain are useful in the care of Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and brain tumors.
How do PET/MRI scans work?
MRI scans use a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures of the body. They can also provide information about how well these structures are functioning.
PET scans use tracers to highlight abnormalities that indicate disease.
Until now, scientists could not integrate PET and MRI for simultaneous scanning because MRI’s powerful magnets interfered with the imaging detectors on the PET scanner.
PET and MRI scans have been conducted separately, and the separate images later merged. That merger, however, requires a complex computer process. At Stanford, our newly-available PET/MRI scanner can perform both types of scans at the same time to gather more information than merged PET and MRI scans.
Benefits of PET/MRI scans
There are major benefits to PET/MRI scans:
More accurate diagnosis and treatment options: PET/MRI scans of the brain can detect abnormal findings that PET/CT misses in more than 50% of patients scanned.
Improved safety from significantly reduced radiation exposure: Compared to PET/CT scans, PET/MRI exposes patients to about 50% less radiation.
Convenience of two scans in one: PET/MRI eliminates the need for separate appointments.
Stanford Health Care expertise
Stanford Health Care is one of the first health care providers in North America to offer this leading-edge imaging technology to patients. Because of the increased detail of PET/MRI scans, only the most expert radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians can accurately interpret these images. Our radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians are nationally recognized as leaders in their field. They are often asked by their peers to give second opinions on tests performed outside of Stanford.