Theranostics 2013; 3(10):757-773. doi:10.7150/thno.5201


Methodology for Quantitative Rapid Multi-Tracer PET Tumor Characterizations

Dan J. Kadrmas1,2✉, John M. Hoffman1,2

1. Utah Center for Advanced Imaging Research, Department of Radiology;
2. Molecular Imaging Program, Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah.

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Kadrmas DJ, Hoffman JM. Methodology for Quantitative Rapid Multi-Tracer PET Tumor Characterizations. Theranostics 2013; 3(10):757-773. doi:10.7150/thno.5201. Available from

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Positron emission tomography (PET) can image a wide variety of functional and physiological parameters in vivo using different radiotracers. As more is learned about the molecular basis for disease and treatment, the potential value of molecular imaging for characterizing and monitoring disease status has increased. Characterizing multiple aspects of tumor physiology by imaging multiple PET tracers in a single patient provides additional complementary information, and there is a significant body of literature supporting the potential value of multi-tracer PET imaging in oncology. However, imaging multiple PET tracers in a single patient presents a number of challenges. A number of techniques are under development for rapidly imaging multiple PET tracers in a single scan, where signal-recovery processing algorithms are employed to recover various imaging endpoints for each tracer. Dynamic imaging is generally used with tracer injections staggered in time, and kinetic constraints are utilized to estimate each tracers' contribution to the multi-tracer imaging signal. This article summarizes past and ongoing work in multi-tracer PET tumor imaging, and then organizes and describes the main algorithmic approaches for achieving multi-tracer PET signal-recovery. While significant advances have been made, the complexity of the approach necessitates protocol design, optimization, and testing for each particular tracer combination and application. Rapid multi-tracer PET techniques have great potential for both research and clinical cancer imaging applications, and continued research in this area is warranted.

Keywords: PET tracers, Tumor Characterizations