Siemens unveils world’s
first integrated PET-MR


Siemens Healthcare has unveiled the world’s first hybrid PET-MR scanner with simultaneous image data acquisition in what is being hailed as a significant breakthrough in medical imaging. The system produces spectacular whole body images (as pictured on the cover of this issue) and has the potential to identify neurological, oncological and cardiac conditions in the very early stage of disease. Middle East Health reports.


In late November Siemens unveiled the Biograph molecular magnetic resonance (mMR), the world's first integrated wholebody magnetic resonance tomograph (MR) and positron emission tomograph (PET) in a single device with simultaneous data acquisition technology. The images it produces are spectacular. As well as reducing radiation dose compared to PET-CT, the new device is expected to significantly speed up the time for diagnosis for diseases such as cancer, as well as enabling early, accurate diagnosis. It is also expected to facilitate the tracking of disease progression.

The system comprises a 3-tesla MR scanner and an integrated PET detection system within a single architecture. Basically the system consists of a PET ring detector fitted inside a 3T magnet to acquire MR anatomical data and PET functional data simultaneously.

“Biograph mMR is designed to simultaneously acquire morphology, function, and metabolism for the entire body,” explained Britta Fuenfstueck, CEO, Molecular Imaging at Siemens Healthcare.

The first Biograph mMR system was unveiled at RSNA in Chicago in November and simultaneously installed at the university hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Munich Technical University, Germany, where it will undergo clinical tests.



“We are entering a new dimension in diagnostic imaging,” said Professor Dr Markus Schwaiger, director of the Clinic for Nuclear Medicine at the University Hospital.

He explained that the university has “initiated clinical use testing of the Biograph mMR in an effort to diagnose diseases at a very early stage to see the progression of disease and to use that information to develop a therapy plan precisely focused on the respective patient. Furthermore, we plan to use the system for cancer follow-up in the long run, by reducing radiation exposure by the use of the system.”

Speaking at RSNA, Walter Märzendorfer, chief executive officer of Siemens MR, said: “This is the world’s first fully integrated whole-body molecular MR system, meaning that a solid-state PET camera is integrated into the isocenter of a 3T MR scanner, allowing simultaneous data acquisition of MR and PET data.”

The combination of MR and PET in one device allows doctors – for the first time – to simultaneously see the position of internal organs, how these are working, as well as their metabolism, all in a single image. This may help doctors to make more accurate diagnoses by not only seeing where a tumour is in the body, but also its type and its activity. Moreover it may display how the body reacts to medication administered to the patient.

Siemens says the innovative system has the potential to be a particularly valuable tool for identifying neurological, oncological and cardiac conditions of disease and in supporting the planning of appropriate therapies. Since MRI does not emit ionizing radiation, Biograph mMR may provide an added benefit with lower-dose imaging. The Biograph mMR also opens new opportunities for research, such as the development of new biomarkers or new therapeutic approaches.

Initial research suggests that with this system, Molecular MR can scan the entire body in as little as 30 minutes for the combined exams, compared to one hour or more for sequential MR and PET examinations.

As well as reducing examination time, the same goes for space – where room was needed for two large machines before, now only one combined machine is required.

Until now, it was nearly impossible to integrate MR and PET technologies: the conventional PET detectors, which use photomultiplier tubes, could not be used in the strong magnetic field generated by an MR system. Integration was further limited by the lack of space inside the MR device. For this reason, MR-PET imaging is the result of two separate scans with a significant time lag. With Biograph mMR, Siemens brings the first molecular MR system for clinical research that integrates MR with compact, specialised PET detectors.

The Biograph mMR incorporates Tim, the “Total imaging matrix” technology from Siemens, which makes it quick and easy for clinicians to perform MR examinations.

Dr Hermann Requardt, CEO of the Siemens Healthcare Sector, speaking at the launch of the device at the university hospital said: “We can master the challenges of our healthcare systems only if we detect diseases as early as possible and treat them appropriately, while keeping an eye on costs.

“Our Biograph mMR is a tool for doctors, enabling them to more quickly and accurately collect information on the type, stage, and progress of cancers, for example. The system may also be suitable for monitoring the progress and effectiveness of therapies. The Biograph mMR at the hospital Rechts der Isar clinic is a milestone in image-based diagnostics.”

According to Siemens says the device is near production- form and it has plans to commercialise the Biograph mMR under a CE label in the European Union in the second half of 2011. Its US launch awaits successful FDA review, which Siemens is currently pursuing.

GE Healthcare and Philips Healthcare have taken their own approaches to PETMR, with both companies offering systems that scan PET and MR images sequentially. Software then fuses the image data.

The in-line Philips system is not yet commercially available in the US. GE’s system is available and essentially involves a dockable table which passes through their MR scanner followed by the PET-CT scanner.

ate of upload: 17th Feb 2011


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