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Hybrid PET-MRI Applications in Movement Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Giacomo Tondo, Marcello Esposito, George Dervenoulas, Heather Wilson, Marios Politis, Gennaro Pagano

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Neurobiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018

King's Authors


Even before the success of combined positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT), the neuroimaging community was conceiving the idea to integrate the positron emission tomography (PET), with very high molecular quantitative data but low spatial resolution, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with high spatial resolution. Several technical limitations have delayed the use of a hybrid scanner in neuroimaging studies, including the full integration of the PET detector ring within the MRI system, the optimization of data acquisition, and the implementation of reliable methods for PET attenuation, motion correction, and joint image reconstruction. To be valid and useful in clinical and research settings, this instrument should be able to simultaneously acquire PET and MRI, and generate quantitative parametric PET images comparable to PET-CT. While post hoc co-registration of combined PET and MRI data acquired separately became the most reliable technique for the generation of “fused” PET-MRI images, only hybrid PET-MRI approach allows merging these measurements naturally and correlating them in a temporal manner. Furthermore, hybrid PET-MRI represents the most accurate tool to investigate in vivo the interplay between molecular and functional aspects of brain pathophysiology. Hybrid PET-MRI technology is still in the early stages in the movement disorders field, due to the limited availability of scanners with integrated optimized methodological models. This technology is ideally suited to investigate interactions between resting-state functional/arterial spin labeling MRI and [18F]FDG PET glucose metabolism in the evaluation of the brain “hubs” particularly vulnerable to neurodegeneration, areas with a high degree of connectivity and associated with an efficient synaptic neurotransmission. In Parkinson's disease, hybrid PET-MRI is also the ideal instrument to deeper explore the relationship between resting-state functional MRI and dopamine release at [11C]raclopride PET challenge, in the identification of early drug-naïve Parkinson's disease patients at higher risk of motor complications and in the evaluation of the efficacy of novel neuroprotective treatment able to restore at the same time the altered resting state and the release of dopamine. In this chapter, we discuss the key methodological aspects of hybrid PET-MRI; the evidence in movement disorders of the key resting-state functional and perfusion MRI; [18F]FDG PET and [11C]raclopride PET challenge studies; the potential advantages of using hybrid PET-MRI to investigate the pathophysiology of movement disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Future directions of hybrid PET-MRI will be discussed alongside with up-to-date technological innovations on hybrid systems.

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