Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning adds a whole new dimension to a radiologist’s ability to diagnose and directly treat disease. PET scans show metabolic function and abnormal molecular cell activity from anatomic structures. PET scans can detect very small cancerous tumors as well as subtle changes in the brain and heart.
It is a nuclear medicine imaging test used to diagnose a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, etc. In PET scanning, a patient is injected with a radioactive tracer infused with simple sugars. Cancerous cells and metabolically active organs metabolize these sugars much faster than normal cells. As these sugars are consumed, they begin to decay and emit positrons. These emissions collide with electrons, sending gamma rays out from the body. These rays are captured and processed by a computer to form “hot spots” on the images.
Since the disease process begins at a chemical level long before it presents structural changes, the information from a PET scan can provide radiologists a signal that there is a problem even before anything would show up through normal examinations.
PET scans are a valuable tool; PET scans have recently been combined with computed tomography (CT) scanning technology to increase results. CT imaging uses X-ray equipment to create detailed images of slices of the inside of the body. The PET-CT combination allows any abnormality on the PET scan to be precisely located within the body, allowing for more accurate diagnosis of any problems. Both types of scan are critical in diagnosing disease. Before the PET CT scan option, radiologists had to perform both scans separately and then compare images to determine the location of an abnormality within the body. Combined PET CT scanning provides the detailed information of CT with the “hot spot” information of the PET scan, offering more accuracy in targeting a disease site through only one exam.
These scans can often detect disease much earlier, allowing for treatment and cure with higher success. It can also show the “staging” of a disease, providing radiologists with invaluable information about the disease’s growth and progression. They can show whether a tumor is benign or cancerous and can also monitor the effectiveness of treatment.
PET scanning is a powerful diagnostic test that is having a major impact on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. It provides unique information which may assist in making a diagnosis, in determining treatment or providing the likely outcome of any disease.
Nuclear medicine tests, with a full body scan through the use of PET technology can provide information on how tissue or organs are working, which cannot be obtained from other imaging techniques. PET scans may detect disease earlier than other types of scanning by identifying early changes to tissue and organs.
Radiologists at the Center for Diagnostic Imaging use this advanced technology as their preferred choice to provide outstanding patient care with preventative and diagnostic purposes.