Thomas Jefferson University Hospital welcomed patients to the Brind-Marcus Center of Integrative Medicine, its first satellite location, in early December. In early February, the center will introduce its new PET/MRI (positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging), the first hybrid machine of its kind in the Philadelphia region. Dr. Daniel Monti, Senior Vice President at Thomas Jefferson University and Director of the Brind-Marcus Center, describes the four advantages of this technology.
It is a hybrid machine. PET/MRI is a hybrid that combines the two modalities into a single machine, allowing for simultaneous MRI and PET images. The traditional way of getting a PET scan requires a CT scan first to visualize the anatomy, and then onto a PET scanner (separate machine) to view the functional activity of the region being scanned. MRI, generally, is superior to CT for the anatomy part, and the latest MRIs also allow for a different view of function via blood flow. “When using this machine to scan the brain, for example, we are able to get a much better set of information all at once—excellent anatomic visualization with MRI, functional activity via blood flow with MRI, and functional activity via metabolic activity with PET,” says Dr. Monti.
It is a tremendous value for patients with cancer. For patients with cancer, the PET/MRI can be used for diagnostics and staging. And because it can more accurately localize the tumor, it is ideal for surgical planning. “The acuity of the MRI, and then the functionality of the PET scan, is really a tremendous value for cancer patients,” says Dr. Monti.
Patients are exposed to less radiation. According to Dr. Monti, with a traditional PET/CT, a patient receives two separate scans, and the CT has radiation. This often concerns people, especially cancer patients, he says. With an MRI, however, there is no radiation exposure. So with this new PET/MRI, patients get no radiation exposure when they only need the MRI component and much less than PET/CT when they need the PET component, as well.
It improves the patient experience. The PET/MRI scanner helps improve the overall patient experience because only one appointment is needed for the two modalities. During the testing itself, a patient requires minimal change in his or her position between tests, which, in turn, allows physicians to compare tests more easily and get information as accurately and quickly as possible. “It is more time efficient because you get both scans at the same time,” says Dr. Monti.
Dr. Monti also mentioned that the hybrid machine has allowed the Brind-Marcus Center to partner with other departments within Jefferson to look at outcomes and better assess the more difficult problems that people struggle to characterize. “For example, [with] those who suffer from chronic pain or chronic fatigue where there is no clear diagnosis, this machine will help give us a clear view of anatomy and function, and we will be able to see inflammation in areas where we wouldn’t be able to see before,” he says.
Dr. Daniel Monti is a Jefferson Senior Vice President and the Director of both of Jefferson’s Integrative-Medicine Centers: the Brind-Marcus Center in Villanova and the Myrna Brind Center on the main Jefferson campus. He is also professor of emergency medicine and psychiatry. Over the past 10 years, he has developed one of the nation’s leading clinical, academic and research centers for integrative medical care. He has authored dozens of scholarly publications in the field and is the recipient of numerous research grants to test cutting-edge innovative therapies. He is coauthor of the widely acclaimed popular press book The Great Life Makeover (HarperCollins, 2008) and coeditor of the textbook Integrative Psychiatry (Oxford University Press, 2010). Dr. Monti graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine, and he completed residency training and a research scholars program at Thomas Jefferson University. He received a Master of Business Administration from Temple University.
Brind-Marcus Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson
789 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova
(215) 503-9070, www.jefferson.edu/Brind-MarcusCenter