Edinburgh Imaging

06 Dec 18. PET-MR reaches 200th scan

The Edinburgh Imaging facility QMRI's PET-MR scanner has reached over 200 scans!

PET-MR reaches 200th scan article

The Biograph mMR, funded by the Medical Research Council as part of the Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), was installed in the Edinburgh Imaging Facility at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute (QMRI) in 2016. The first clinical research study started recruitment in December of that year. Since then we have carried out over 200 PET-MRI scans for 12 different funded research studies with a focus on neurology, cardiology, vasculature and endocrinology. These studies benefit from the complimentary information provided by truly simultaneous PET and MRI acquisitions. Several more studies are imminently about to start.

Professor Edwin van Beek, Director of the Edinburgh Imaging Facility at QMRI, says:

“This is a wonderful opportunity to study physiological characteristics of diseases in great detail, by combining the strengths of molecular PET imaging and advanced MRI methods, while reducing radiation burden to study participants.”

Professor Edwin van BeekSINAPSE Chair of Clinical Radiology, Director of the Edinburgh Imaging Facility, QMRI

The PET-MRI department is managed by Dr Gillian Macnaught and benefits from being staffed by 2 full-time physicists with access to NHS radiographers trained to use PET-MRI as its own hybrid modality. This dedicated staffing is key to the successful use of PET-MRI as in-depth knowledge of both PET and MRI, and crucially how they blend together into efficient imaging protocols, maximises the output from PET-MRI studies.

David Brian, the superintendent radiographer says:

“We were fortunate in our facility to have staff who were trained in both PET and MR imaging, however, it quickly became clear that the PET-MR system was its own unique entity. Training was initially challenging as there are several practical aspects to consider with the workflow. For example, MRI scans must be carried out with the scanner bed fixed to the PET field of view. This requires dynamic adaption of ‘routine’ MR techniques to ensure good quality images. Our staff have quickly adapted and are now at the forefront of using this technology for clinical research”.

David BrianSuperintendent radiographer
Current projects

We are part of the DPUK imaging network that links neuroimaging across 7 institutions with access to PET-MRI scanners. We have just completed test object scanning as part of a harmonisation study between the existing DPUK PET-MRI scanners. The volunteer scanning phase of this study is starting imminently. This study will measure the variability in PET-MRI scans at the different sites to ensure that differences are minimised in subsequent multi-centre studies.  The Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study is another multi-centre DPUK study due to begin soon. As part of this study the brains of participants at the prodromal stages of Alzheimer’s disease will be scanned at multiple time points over a year. The aim is to develop a set of biomarkers that are sensitive to changes in pathology that could be used to assess disease modifying treatments. 

We have a considerable programme of research in cardiology and vascular imaging. The vast majority of these studies are currently exploring the potential use of 18F-NaF to diagnose conditions such as cardiac amyloidosis, endocarditis, valve disease and coronary atherothrombosus.  In addition new PET tracers are being developed by our radiochemistry team. These tracers will allow researchers to assess different properties of the cardiovascular system such as thrombi and inflammation.

Finally there are exciting technical developments being explored by the Edinburgh Imaging physics and image analysis teams. For example we are currently exploring new methods for attenuation correction of the PET data using the MR images and machine learning methods that will potentially be of benefit to all future PET-MRI studies.

Any researchers interested in using the PET-MRI scanner or collaborating with the physics team should contact Dr Gillian Macnaught (gillian.macnaught@ed.ac.uk).

Dr Gillian Macnaught, the lead PET-MR physicist says:

“We welcome early discussions with researchers wishing to use the PET-MRI scanner as part of their study. We will be able to help them develop and optimise their imaging protocol to ensure they acquire the best quality data allowing them to fully answer their particular research question”.

Dr Gillian MacnaughtLead PET-MR physicist