The aims of this study were to investigate subjective perceptions and sensory side effects during whole-body positron emission tomography (PET)/magnetic resonance (MR) examinations and to evaluate differences between PET/MR and standard PET/computed tomography (CT) examinations.
Material and Methods
During prospective clinical trials using a PET/MR hybrid system after a standard PET/CT examination, 266 patients (including 19 juveniles) were asked to complete questionnaires on causes of discomfort and side effects after both examinations (self-assessment). In case of complaints regarding causes of discomfort, physicians were also asked to complete the questionnaires to provide an external assessment. Visual analog scales were used for the ratings.
Seventy-four percent (183/247) of all adult patients and 68% (13/19) of all teenage patients completed the questionnaires. In most of the cases, patient compliance was good and allowed for the acquisition of diagnostic images. Most patients did not report side effects or discomfort at all. Only 11 of 247 PET/MR scans of adult patients (4.4%) and 4 of 19 scans of juvenile patients (21%) were aborted prematurely by the patients' requests; however, this did not influence the final PET/MR diagnoses in most cases (12/15). In terms of noise levels and examination times, patients rated the PET/MR significantly lower than the PET/CT. With the exception of male patients not tolerating the examination time as well as female patients, no significant influences of sex, age, body mass index, and real scan times were observed. The attending physicians tended to underestimate their patient's discomfort, particularly when the discomfort was because of time (in the case of children) or noise exposure (all patients).
Patient comfort should drive the design and development of optimized scanner types, workflow processes, and scan protocols. For PET/MR, the most important aim should be to shorten the scan time. However, patient-centered management may be the best instrument to improve patient compliance.