Combining anatomy and function: the path to true image fusion

Eur Radiol. 2001;11(10):1968-74. doi: 10.1007/s003300101007.


Modern imaging technologies visualize different aspects of disease in a non-invasive way. Considerable progress has been made in the fusion of images from different imaging modalities using software approaches. One goal of fusion software is to align anatomical and functional images and allow improved spatial localization of abnormalities. The resulting correlation of the anatomical and functional images may clarify the nature of the abnormality and help diagnose or stage the underlying disease. Whereas successful image fusion software has been developed for the brain, only limited success has been achieved for image alignment in other parts of the body. The development and current status of alternative approaches are presented. Dual-modality imaging is described with devices where two modalities are combined and mounted in a single gantry. The use of existing scanner technology ensures that no compromises are made in the clinical efficacy of either the anatomical or functional imaging modality. A combined positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) scanner has been developed and is undergoing clinical evaluation. Combining PET with MR is technologically more challenging because of the strong magnetic fields restricting the use of certain electronic components. An overview of the current status and future prospects of dual-modality imaging devices is presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Diagnostic Imaging / trends
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*