The fusion of anatomic and physiologic imaging in the management of patients with cancer

Semin Nucl Med. 2001 Jul;31(3):191-205. doi: 10.1053/snuc.2001.23525.


Imaging is of major clinical importance in the noninvasive evaluation and management of patients with cancer. Computed tomography (CT) and other anatomic imaging modalities, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound, have a high diagnostic ability by visualizing lesion morphology and by providing the exact localization of malignant sites. Nuclear medicine provides information on the function and metabolism of cancer. Over the last decade, there have been numerous attempts to combine data obtained from different imaging techniques. Fused images of nuclear medicine and CT (or to a lesser extent, MRI) overcome the inherent limitations of both modalities. Valuable physiologic information benefits from a precise topographic localization. Coregistered data have been shown to be useful in the evaluation of patients with cancer at diagnosis and staging, in monitoring the response to treatment, and during follow up, for early detection of recurrence. Time-consuming and difficult realignment and computation for fusion of independent studies have, until now, limited the use of registration techniques to pilot studies performed in a small number of patients. The development of the new technology of single photon emission computed tomography/CT and positron emission tomography/CT that allows for combined functional and anatomic data acquisition has the potential to make fusion an everyday clinical tool.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed