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A PET-MR scan is a two-in-one test that combines images from a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Doctors use these pictures to diagnose medical conditions and plan their treatment. PET/MRI scans of the brain are useful in the care of Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and brain tumors.

How do PET-MR scans work?

PET-MR is a new scanning technology which enables simultaneous acquisition of PET and MR data within a common scanning field of view, with minimal interference. In the UK there are seven such scanners, which are all part of the DPUK network, with an eighth scanner due to complete installation in Sheffield in the near future - Dr Julian Matthews, Lead of the DPUK Imaging Network harmonisation study

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.

MRI scanners 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 scanners 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. Previously, PET and MRI scans have been conducted separately, and the separate images later merged. DPUK's PET-MR scanners can perform both types of scans at the same time, gathering more information than merged PET and MRI scans.

Researchers make use of longitudinal datasets to predict Alzheimer's disease© Pexel