PET/MRI Protocols Boost Cancer Detection

According to new research, PET/MRI achieves comparable or superior results to PET/CT for detecting pulmonary malignancies. Based on those findings, experts involved in the study believe that MRI could play a growing role in lung cancer staging and restaging. Although previous research has yielded somewhat contradictory results on the efficacy of the modality for detecting small pulmonary lesions, this most recent study found that fluorine 18-labeled fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) PET/MRI performed as well as PET/CT in a cohort of nearly 1,300 people, even outperforming PET/CT detection results in some cases.

Substituting MRI for CT has resulted in superior soft-tissue contrast and more functional information regarding lesion detection, potentially resulting in higher diagnostic whole-body performance while reducing patients’ radiation exposure.

In total, 43 studies involving 1,278 patients were included in the analysis. The combined sensitivity and specificity of 18F-FDG PET/MRI were comparable to those of 18F-FDG PET/CT, with 96% versus 99% and 100% versus 99%, respectively. When advanced protocols such as contrast media and diffusion-weighted imaging were used, however, 18F-FDG PET/MRI outperformed CT in terms of sensitivity.

The authors acknowledged that widespread access to MRI and cost-effectiveness remains a limitation of the modality. However, advances in MRI protocols have overcome the technique’s previously documented limitations in detecting smaller neoplasms. They speculated that the modality could play a growing role in lung cancer imaging.

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