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St. Joseph's receives Canada's first whole-body PET/MRI scanner

LONDON, Ontario - Imagine being able to detect Alzheimer's disease at its earliest stage and prescribe the proper medication to halt its progress. Imagine being able to evaluate the health of heart muscles and tissues after an attack and accurately prescribe treatment to prevent future heart failure. London is close to making these possibilities a reality with the installation of Canada's first whole body PET/MRI scanner at St. Joseph's Hospital, part of St. Joseph's Health Care London.

Today, Lawson Health Research Institute is receiving a new hybrid imaging scanner that combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). The 10-tonne state-of-the-art piece of equipment is being lifted by crane and lowered into its new home this afternoon.

"PET/MRI scanners are among the most exciting and talked about developments in radiology and nuclear medicine and represent the next generation of imaging technology," states Dr. Frank Prato, Imaging Program Leader at Lawson and Physicist Chief at St. Joseph's Hospital. "The applications for PET/MRI are limitless. The scanner will be used by researchers in London to help improve diagnosis and treatment of Canada's major health challenges, such as cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, mental health, and cancer."

The advantages of hybrid PET/MRI imaging are substantial:

  • The high resolution and sensitivity of PET/MRI captures minute details and produces superior three-dimensional images;
  • The simultaneous image capture of the PET and MRI scans eliminates the potential imaging problems caused by involuntary patient movement, such as breathing and muscle relaxation;
  • When used for anatomical imaging, the radiation dose for patients is half that of the next best technology;
  • The combined scanner reduces the need for patients to come for multiple visits; and
  • Patient diagnosis is faster because the imaging and overall information available from the scan is better and more detailed.

The Biograph mMR, manufactured by Siemens, is the first of its kind in Canada. It will be a key part of Lawson's growing hybrid molecular imaging program, which includes the cyclotron, PET radiochemistry equipment and the current PET/CT scanner.

"Siemens and Lawson have been research partners for 24 years, working together to enhance the lives of Canadians," says Jim Graziadei, senior vice president, Siemens Healthcare. "Integrating these two powerful modalities into one simultaneous whole-body system represents a breakthrough innovation. Technologies such as the Biograph mMR provide our customers with solutions to improve clinical workflow, and as a result, improve patient care in a sustainable, cost-effective manner."

The PET/MRI scanner was supported by a Canada Foundation for Innovation/Ontario Research Fund grant.


Contact: Julia Capaldi
519-685-8500 x75616
Lawson Health Research Institute

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