New “superscanner” provides PET and MR images simultaneously


A new scanner in place at Leuven’s University Hospital allows two kinds of scans to be carried out at once, reducing time, costs and stress for patients

Device “of our dreams”

At the University Hospital Leuven (UZ Leuven), doctors can now use a scanner that carries out MR and PET scans simultaneously. It’s the first such medical device in use in Belgium.

Doctors will use the “superscanner” to diagnose and follow up cancer patients and carry out studies on the formation and consequences of brain disorders, tumours and heart defects.

MR scans are ideal to record images of soft tissues and for examinations in which patients have to carry out a task. PET scans on the other hand are more suitable to visualise chemical or molecular activity like those in tumour formation.

The combination of the technique should result in a faster and more accurate diagnosis and in improved planning of customised treatments. The simultaneous screening will also reduce the stress for vulnerable patients like children, the elderly and people with dementia.

“The combination of these techniques enables us to carry out research that we could only dream of 10 years ago,” said professor Koen Van Laere, head of UZ Leuven’s nuclear medicine department. “It’s a new step towards personalised and cost-efficient precision health care." 

The scanner in Leuven is the fifth of its kind in Europe. It was financed by UZ Leuven and the Flemish government’s Hercules Foundation. The university hospitals of Ghent and Antwerp are collaborating in the project. Doctors and researchers from across Flanders will have access to the device.

Photo courtesy UZ Leuven