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Texas Children's Hospital is the first children's hospital in the nation to offer PET/MRI scanner to better diagnose several childhood diseases

HOUSTON, April 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Texas Children's Hospital announced today that it is the first children's hospital in the United States to begin using a PET/MRI (positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging) scanner, a state-of-the-art technology that will help in early and accurate diagnosis of various cancers, heart diseases and degenerative neurological disorders. Texas Children's is also the only hospital in the Texas Medical Center to have this machine. 


PET/MRI is a hybrid imaging technology that incorporates MRI soft tissue morphological imaging and PET functional imaging. This new imaging device sequentially performs PET and MRI scans, producing more detailed images than either technique alone. Hybrid PET and MRI scans eliminate the need to move patients from one imaging unit to another, making it easier to combine data from both scans to produce enhanced details.

"We are excited to be able to offer this technology to our patients through a clinical trial. To be able to study the structural and functional changes in the body may allow us to detect abnormalities, even before the clinical symptoms of a disease begin to show," says Dr. George S. Bisset III , chief of pediatric radiology at Texas Children's Hospital, professor of radiology at Baylor College of Medicine and immediate past president of the Radiological Society of North America. "This technology holds so much promise and we are anxious to see where it takes us."

According to multiple research papers written on the PET/MRI scanner, it is reasonable to expect that PET/MRI will provide new insights in the field of neuroscience and neurologic disorders, such as neurodegeneration, brain ischemia, neuro-oncology and seizures. It will also be used to diagnose many other illnesses, including head and neck tumors, many types of cancer, liver tumors, pelvic tumors, musculoskeletal tumors and heart diseases.

Until recently, scientists could not integrate PET and MRI scanners because powerful MRI magnets interfered with the imaging detectors on the PET scanner. PET/MRI may be able to replace the PET/CT scans now used to investigate cancers and other problems in pediatric patients. If so, PET/MRI scans will expose patients to significantly less radiation dose than that required for PET/CT scans.

"Radiation exposure is a source of concern for any patient, but it has to be watched with particular care in pediatric patients who are still growing and developing," Bisset adds. "An opportunity to get information essential for medical care at half the radiation exposure would be particularly welcome both in pediatric patients and in adults who need multiple scans during treatment."

The PET/MRI scanner will be located in the new imaging facility on the 5th floor at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women that opens today. The new Nuclear Radiology and MRI facilities were built to extend services in functional and molecular imaging.  Included in this suite will be the PET/MR scanner, PET/CT scanner and two additional single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) cameras as well as a SPECT/CT, making this one of the most cutting-edge centers in the world. 

"This opening will culminate years of planning to develop and incorporate state-of-the-art imaging equipment that will facilitate improved imaging at lower radiation doses and faster speed," adds Bisset.

The imaging facility will feature the new Ambient® lighting and audio system which is a special tool that creates a gentler, more calming atmosphere for our young patients and often facilitates scanning pediatric patients without the need for sedation or anesthesia. 

The imaging facility also includes a Kitten Scanner, a small-scale simulated version of an MRI scanner that helps reduce children's anxiety about an exam. The Kitten Scanner will be located in the waiting room. We encourage children to play and interact with the device by choosing a toy to scan, putting it on the miniature patient table and pushing it through the opening, watching the flat panel display which presents (in terms kids can understand) a short story explaining how a scanner works and why the exam is needed and seeing the "insides" of the toy on the screen. As children play with the Kitten Scanner, they focus their attention on learning and having fun, so they are less likely to worry about the upcoming procedure.

Texas Children's will begin using this scanner on patients beginning today. All patients who could benefit from the more detailed imaging will be asked to participate in a clinical trial. 

For more information about pediatric radiology at Texas Children's, please visit:

About Texas Children's Hospital
Texas Children's Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to creating a community of healthy children through excellence in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation, Texas Children's has recognized Centers of Excellence in multiple pediatric subspecialties including the Cancer and Heart Centers, and operates the largest primary pediatric care network in the country. Texas Children's has completed a $1.5 billion expansion, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; and Texas Children's Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston.  For more information on Texas Children's, go to Get the latest news from Texas Children's by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at

Contact: Christy Brunton

SOURCE Texas Children's Hospital
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