Edinburgh Imaging

31 Mar 17. PET-MR first scan

The Siemens Biograph mMR system at the Edinburgh Imaging Facility QMRI, has completed its first scan on a stroke patient, giving researchers the clearest picture yet of the damage caused by stroke.

This scanner is the first of its kind in Scotland, & combines two specialised imaging techniques, to reveal details of the brain’s structure and function. It combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) into a single machine. 

Scientists hope that the device will help them to understand the causes of bleeding in the brain that leads to certain types of stroke and dementia. 

The scans will enable doctors to give patients a more accurate diagnosis and will also help them to monitor the effects of treatments, which could lead to better therapies.

MRI scans provide structural details of organs and tissues inside the body, but little functional information. PET scans – which follow a radioactive tracer in the body – can show processes such as brain activity or energy metabolism. They can also reveal abnormal deposits of proteins in the brain that can cause damage but are not visible on MRI. Combining the two types of scan into one machine allows researchers to view structures of the brain in action inside a person in real time.

For this first research study, researchers will use the scanner to investigate how a protein called amyloid can build up in the blood vessels of the brain. They hope to understand how this condition – called cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) – triggers bleeding and stroke and causes dementia in some people.

The new machine is part of a £14 million investment in the University of Edinburgh’s research imaging facilities. With a total of six scanners dedicated to research, the Edinburgh Imaging facilities are now one of the largest in Europe with close ties to clinical care. The MRI-PET scanner is part of a new UK network of these scanners working on dementia research.

Acquisition & installation of the MR-PET scanner was supported by the Medical Research Council as part of the Dementias Platform UK Imaging Network. The device will enable detailed imaging of the brain & other organs, providing insights into diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lung & various types of cancer.


“The MR-PET scanner will transform our ability to detect changes in the brain that occur after stroke. We hope that the findings will help us to improve diagnosis and ultimately find new ways of treating the condition.”

ECAT Clinical Lecturer at the University’s Centre for Clinical Brain SciencesDr Mark Rodrigues

Edinburgh Imaging is hosting a Science Symposium on 30 June 2017 where international experts will meet to discuss the latest advances in biomedical imaging and analysis.