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Camila's Trip to Munich

Posted 19th July 2017

Camila's is a PhD student in Cohort One, who's project "Motion Compensation for Simultaneous Cardiac Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance (MR) Imaging" is Supervised by Claudia Prieto, Andrew Reader from KCL, and Radhouene Neji from Siemens

As part of my PhD project, I visited the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany, from the 1st to the 8th of June. The purpose of the trip was to visit the multimodal cardiac imaging group, lead by Dr. Stephan Nekolla, in order to further advance an ongoing collaboration that we started a few months ago concerning cardiac and respiratory motion correction for simultaneous PET-MR. The first simultaneous clinical PET-MR scanner in the world was installed at TUM in 2011, and during the six years since the group there has gained a lot of experience in using the PET-MR system in a clinical setting. I was very excited about learning from them and receiving feedback about the developments I’ve been working on using our own PET-MR scanner at St Thomas', which was installed in 2014.

My PhD research project focuses on the development of motion correction techniques for cardiac PET-MR imaging. A typical PET-MR examination takes about 15 minutes, and during that time the heart is continuously moving due to the respiratory and cardiac cycles. If the motion of the heart is not compensated for, we obtain blurred images that cannot be used to make accurate diagnoses or therapy decisions for cardiac diseases.

During my PhD, I have developed a framework that allows estimation of respiratory motion from MR images, and which then uses this information to correct both the PET and MR data so the final images are focused and small features (in particular the coronary arteries) can be well depicted. I have previously tested the framework in healthy subjects (basically other PhD students within the Division!), and it works nicely in those cases. However, patients are more challenging, mainly because their breathing patterns are more complex. The group at TUM knew about our approach, and they were interested in testing it on cardiac patients as part of their clinical protocol.

During the week that I visited their lab I gave a talk about the project and showed some of our preliminary results using our technique. They were impressed with the quality of the images and gave me ideas about how to further improve them. I also attended four scanning sessions to observe how are they using our motion correction framework, and gave them feedback about how to optimise some of the acquisition parameters so that they could benefit from the full potential of our method.

On the last day of my trip we had a final meeting where we discussed the next steps in our collaboration, including a potential journal publication with the results of using our framework in their patients. Overall, the trip was a great way to further the collaboration, which we hope will continue to provide us with promising results and even, perhaps, with opportunities for improving clinical outcomes for cardiac patients.

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