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Stony Brook Medicine Among First Clinical Sites for Simultaneous PET/MRI

Birthplace of MRI technology becomes first on Long Island to offer simultaneous PET/MRI

Lourie imaging suiteStony Brook Medicine, where MRI technology was first developed, is among the first sites in the United States to offer simultaneous PET/MRI technology for clinical use. The new technology will benefit patients by providing exceptional image quality and diagnostic capabilities, and greater efficiency by having two significant imaging procedures performed at the same time with low-dose radiation.

The new Siemens Biograph mMR hybrid imaging system is located in the new Lisa and Robert Lourie Imaging Suite at Stony Brook University Cancer Center, with funding through a $2.5 million gift from Robert and Lisa Lourie, matched by the Simons Foundation Challenge Grant for a total impact of $5 million. The state-of-the-art technology from Siemens is the world’s first system to perform simultaneous whole-body MRI and PET scans.

“PET/MRI at Stony Brook will be a unique venture on Long Island that embodies the collaborative spirit of Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine through its shared mission of healthcare research,” said President Samuel Stanley. “The findings and discoveries made here will benefit not just Stony Brook patients, but potentially patients all over the globe, as new uses and applications are discovered and developed. It is yet another example of how Stony Brook is on an exciting trajectory and meteoric rise, not only in education, but in healthcare research and clinical care across Long Island and beyond.”

Stony Brook becomes the first site on Long Island and the 10th site in North America to offer simultaneous PET/MRI since the technology was approved by the FDA in June 2011. Stony Brook University is where the concept for MRI technology was first developed in the 1970s by the late Paul Lauterbur, PhD, who shared in the Nobel prize for his work in 2003.

image“The PET/MRI gives Stony Brook a world-class tool for clinical diagnosis and treatment, and for conducting groundbreaking medical research,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “The new PET/MRI will allow us to simultaneously determine both structure and function of abnormalities throughout the head and body. Not only will we be able to capture a more complete picture at the beginning of treatment, but our understanding of the progress of disease will increase tremendously.”

Clinical diagnostic uses for PET/MRI will include abdominal and pelvic oncology, pediatric oncology, head and neck cancers, cardiac imaging, neurodegenerative disease and psychological disorders. Research applications will include oncology, cardiac, neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis.

“PET/MRI technology will offer tremendous clinical benefits for residents of Long Island,” said Mark Schweitzer, MD, FRCPSC, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging and Chair of the Department of Radiology at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “With the convenience of a combined exam and the advanced imaging capabilities of the PET/MRI system, our patients will benefit from more accurate disease staging, shorter, more comprehensive exams and faster results with superior imaging quality for diagnostic capabilities.”

Through a multi-disciplinary committee, Stony Brook will use the technology to conduct research studies and establish protocols, including the study of radioisotopes and new tracers for cancer treatment. With a vision of becoming a national leader in brain imaging technologies, Stony Brook will use PET/MRI to investigate the underlying neurological causes of psychiatric diseases. A master research agreement with the vendor on protocols, data feedback and other measures will help track its efficacy and use.

“A combined PET/MRI will allow us to simultaneously significantly advance science while drastically reducing the burden on our patients,” said Ramin Parsey, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and Director of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Research. “The ability to examine function and structure at the molecular level is going to significantly enhance our understanding of major medical illnesses principally by improving our diagnostic and prognostic capabilities. With this acquisition, we look forward to being one of the preeminent molecular imaging facilities in the country.”

PET/MRI combines the excellent soft-tissue contrast of magnetic resonance imaging, complemented by the molecular information provided by Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Simultaneous acquisition of both types of images improves anatomic localization and enhances soft-tissue contrast, in addition to lowering radiation dose in whole-body imaging. Capturing metabolic activity and anatomy together provides a more precise and accurate assessment of disease, and improves understanding of the nature of physiologic processes. In addition, the magnetic resonance images can be used to correct for motion-related effects in PET, greatly improving image quality.

With a PET/MRI, PET/CT, and four MRI units, Stony Brook Medicine performs nearly 300,000 imaging studies annually, including cardiac CT imaging, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and special procedures. With a 3 Tesla magnet, the Siemens Biograph mMR system provides the strongest MRI magnetic field strength used clinically today, combined with the highest available resolution for PET.


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