The integration of positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) into a single scanning device (PET/CT) has improved the detection and diagnosis of malignant tumors considerably, because it combines the high lesion-to-background contrast of PET with the high spatial resolution and anatomic detail offered by CT. Depending on the PET radiotracer used – for instance, (18)F-FDG reflects the tissue glucose metabolism, and (68)Ga-DOTA-peptides reflect the (over)expression of somatostatin receptors – different functional parameters can be accurately assigned to their morphological correlates. The research group therefore seeks to establish new clinical applications for PET/CT, not only with regard to detection and staging of a disease, but also with regard to treatment response evaluation after radiation therapy or chemotherapy, and disease monitoring.
Recently, the combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and PET has been proposed as a novel hybrid imaging technique (MR/PET). MRI is recognized as the cross-sectional imaging technique with the highest soft-tissue contrast presently available, even without the use of contrast media. For instance, it is superior to CT for the detection of lesions of the liver, prostate, pelvic organs, as well as the detection of soft tissue tumors. In addition, special MR techniques such as diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and perfusion MRI allow the assessment of functional parameters. The research group therefore also focuses on the comparison and combination of functional PET and MRI parameters (i.e., a “double-functional” approach) for tumor characterization and treatment response evaluation.