Simultaneous PET/MRI with (13)C magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (hyperPET): phantom-based evaluation of PET quantification

EJNMMI Phys. 2016 Dec;3(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s40658-016-0143-6. Epub 2016 Apr 22.


Background: Integrated PET/MRI with hyperpolarized (13)C magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging ((13)C-MRSI) offers simultaneous, dual-modality metabolic imaging. A prerequisite for the use of simultaneous imaging is the absence of interference between the two modalities. This has been documented for a clinical whole-body system using simultaneous (1)H-MRI and PET but never for (13)C-MRSI and PET. Here, the feasibility of simultaneous PET and (13)C-MRSI as well as hyperpolarized (13)C-MRSI in an integrated whole-body PET/MRI hybrid scanner is evaluated using phantom experiments.

Methods: Combined PET and (13)C-MRSI phantoms including a NEMA [(18)F]-FDG phantom, (13)C-acetate and (13)C-urea sources, and hyperpolarized (13)C-pyruvate were imaged repeatedly with PET and/or (13)C-MRSI. Measurements evaluated for interference effects included PET activity values in the largest sphere and a background region; total number of PET trues; and (13)C-MRSI signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for urea and acetate phantoms. Differences between measurement conditions were evaluated using t tests.

Results: PET and (13)C-MRSI data acquisition could be performed simultaneously without any discernible artifacts. The average difference in PET activity between acquisitions with and without simultaneous (13)C-MRSI was 0.83 (largest sphere) and -0.76 % (background). The average difference in net trues was -0.01 %. The average difference in (13)C-MRSI SNR between acquisitions with and without simultaneous PET ranged from -2.28 to 1.21 % for all phantoms and measurement conditions. No differences were significant. The system was capable of (13)C-MRSI of hyperpolarized (13)C-pyruvate.

Conclusions: Simultaneous PET and (13)C-MRSI in an integrated whole-body PET/MRI hybrid scanner is feasible. Phantom experiments showed that possible interference effects introduced by acquiring data from the two modalities simultaneously are small and non-significant. Further experiments can now investigate the benefits of simultaneous PET and hyperpolarized (13)C-MRI in vivo studies.

Keywords: 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging; Hyperpolarization; Interference; PET/MRI; Quantification.