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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