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By Wayne Forrest, AuntMinnie.com staff writer
November 10, 2016

The potential of molecular imaging to advance healthcare in the coming years knows no bounds. The development of novel radiotracers to explore neurodegenerative conditions, the convergence of PET with MRI, and maturing applications in PET and PET/CT continue to guide a wide range of clinical applications.

One piece of novel research comes from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where researchers have developed a PET tracer known as AV-1451 to track neurofibrillary tau pathology in vivo and its relationship with atrophy in the brain and Alzheimer's disease. Similar radiotracers are providing ways for clinicians to investigate dementia and other neurological conditions while patients are still alive rather than waiting for an autopsy.

PET/MRI will continue to positively affect routine clinical applications into the next decade. The addition of F-18 fluoride to PET with MRI enables better diagnosis of joint arthritis, while the investigational radiopharmaceutical gallium-68 DOTATOC with PET enhances the evaluation of neuroendocrine tumors. By utilizing a multitude of MRI sequences, researchers can add vital information to PET/MRI breast cancer results and other conditions.

PET/MRI's most advantageous quality may be its ability to greatly reduce patient and staff exposure to radiation compared with conventional PET/CT scans. A next-generation digital PET scanner combined with CT is making it feasible to reduce FDG dose and achieve the same, if not better, image quality.

PET itself continues to hold its own as a mainstay for oncology imaging, while SPECT can overcome inherent limitations of other imaging modalities, for example, in myocardial perfusion imaging of obese patients.

Of course, the best way to get insights on these trends and cutting-edge research at RSNA 2016 is to plan your agenda ahead of time. A complete rundown on all the scheduled presentations, abstracts, posters, refresher courses, and educational forums for the entire meeting is available here.

But, first, peruse the list of the scientific sessions below with comments from the presenters on how their findings could affect your radiology practice.

Scientific and Educational Presentations
PET/MRI enhances data on cervical cancer patients
Sunday, November 27 | 11:15 a.m.-11:25 a.m. | SSA16-04 | Room S505AB
Patients with cervical cancer can be well-served when primary tumors and whole-body staging are performed by FDG-PET/MRI, according to this study being presented on Sunday at RSNA 2016.
PET offers important information for prostate cancer
Sunday, November 27 | 11:35 a.m.-11:45 a.m. | SSA16-06 | Room S505AB
Even though PET imaging with fluorocholine or sodium fluoride provides different information on patients with prostate cancer, either PET option appears to be better than CT for assessing the extent of active metastatic skeletal disease.
PET tracers show when prostate cancer relapses
Sunday, November 27 | 11:55 a.m.-12:05 p.m. | SSA16-08 | Room S505AB
This presentation will discuss the efficacy of the PET tracers fluorocholine and carbon-11 acetate in patients with recurrent prostate cancer and low prostate-specific antigen levels.
Ga-68 DOTATOC PET/MRI proves effective for neuroendocrine tumors
Monday, November 28 | 10:40 a.m.-10:50 a.m. | SSC10-02 | Room S505AB
In an effort to improve whole-body staging of neuroendocrine tumors, German researchers compared PET/MRI with PET/CT, using the investigational radiopharmaceutical gallium-68 (Ga-68) DOTATOC with both.
SPECT/CT can be valuable in abdominal emergencies
Monday, November 28 | 11:00 a.m.-11:10 a.m. | SSC10-04 | Room S505AB
When faced with a gastrointestinal or genitourinary imaging emergency, adding SPECT/CT to the standard imaging options can help identify the source of the problem and lead to an appropriate intervention, according to this study.
Why utilization of SPECT MPI is on the decline
Monday, November 28 | 3:20 p.m.-3:30 p.m. | SSE16-03 | Room S505AB
Reductions in reimbursement and the subsequent closure of many private cardiology offices has led to a substantial contraction in the utilization of standard SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) procedures, researchers from Philadelphia have found.
SPECT leads for cardiac imaging of obese patients
Monday, November 28 | 3:40 p.m.-3:50 p.m. | SSE16-05 | Room S505AB
In this study from Brazil, researchers found that SPECT can overcome inherent limitations of other imaging modalities in myocardial perfusion imaging of obese patients. The findings are particularly important given that overweight people are at greater risk for adverse cardiac events.
PET tracer adds to understanding of tau-Alzheimer's connection
Monday, November 28 | 3:40 p.m.-3:50 p.m. | SSE18-05 | Room N229
Evidence continues to mount for use of the novel PET tracer F-18 AV-1451 to evaluate neurofibrillary tau pathology in vivo, which has been linked to brain atrophy and Alzheimer's disease, according to this study being presented on Monday afternoon.
NaF-PET could be valuable for osteosarcoma assessment
Tuesday, November 29 | 10:30 a.m.-10:40 a.m. | RC311-09 | Room S505AB
In this session, researchers will describe their development of new criteria to evaluate osteosarcoma response to therapy based on PET with sodium fluoride (NaF).
Choose PET/CT for infection from lower-limb prosthetic implants
Tuesday, November 29 | 11:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m. | SSG09-09 | Room E450B
When clinicians suspect an infection after artificial hip or knee placement, FDG-PET/CT should be the modality of choice for diagnosis, according to research from India.
Pilot study assesses fluoride-PET/MRI for joint arthritis
Tuesday, November 29 | 3:00 p.m.-3:10 p.m. | SSJ17-01 | Room S505AB
In this presentation, researchers from Germany will share their findings from a pilot study on the use of PET/MRI with F-18 fluoride to evaluate the sacroiliac joints in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.
FDG-PET/CT OK for evaluating osteoarthritis
Tuesday, November 29 | 3:50 p.m.-4:00 p.m. | SSJ17-06 | Room S505AB
Radiologists should turn to FDG-PET/CT to assess symptomatic osteoarthritis in the knees and hips, as well as pain in the shoulders, according to this presentation set for Tuesday.
A 'heads-up' PET/MRI strategy recommended for cancer patients
Wednesday, November 30 | 11:20 a.m.-11:30 a.m. | SSK13-06 | Room S505AB
How important is the head to a whole-body FDG-PET/MRI scan in cancer patients? By extending whole-body scans to include the brain, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center discovered significant and previously unknown incidental findings.
PET/CT helps evaluate NSCLC patients after therapy
Thursday, December 1 | 10:40 a.m.-10:50 a.m. | SSQ04-02 | Room S402AB
This session will address how combining size and metabolic PET/CT parameters for patients undergoing radiotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) could help clinicians predict survival and determine who would benefit from additional therapy.