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Table 1 Functional and molecular imaging methods

From: Molecular imaging as a tool for translating breast cancer science

Modality Advantages Disadvantages
Magnetic resonance
   Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) High spatial resolution and image detail Confined space
  Increasing range of contrast agents under development Contrast design limited by need for magnetic atom
   Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) Can measure wide range of molecules Limited spatial resolution
  No contrast needed Challenging to get high quality spectra in routine imaging
Radionuclide imaging
   Positron emission tomography (PET) Wide range of molecular imaging probes Limited spatial resolution
  Tracer imaging without perturbing biological system Some radiation exposure
   Single photon emission tomography (SPECT) Similar to PET Less quantitatively accurate than PET
  Probes more widely available  
Ultrasound, especially with contrast enhancement Highly portable, inexpensive Operator dependence
  Molecular microbubble contrast agents possible Contrast agents confined to vascular space thus far
Optical imaging Highly portable, inexpensive Limited penetration from surface, limited to relatively superficial sites
  High spatial resolution possible