Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a non-invasive, diagnostic imaging technique for measuring the metabolic activity of cells in the human body.
It involves the use of a small amount of a radioactive material, similar to what is used in other nuclear medicine procedures. The radioactivity is attached or tagged to a compound that is familiar to your body. Compounds similar to glucose, water, ammonia, and certain drugs may be used. The radioactive drug is administered to the patient, usually by injection and a specially designed PET scanner images how the body processes the drug.
PET is unique because it produces images of the body's basic biochemistry or function. Traditional diagnostic techniques, such as x-rays, CT scans or MRI, produce images of the body's anatomy or structure.
The detailed anatomy provided by the CT portion of the scan allows for precise localization of areas of abnormal uptake seen on the PET portion of the scan.
The combination of PET and CT into one imaging session is a very useful addition to the clinician's diagnostic toolbox, providing significant advantages over traditional, stand-alone diagnostic methods. The information provided from a PET/CT can also be used in planning for Radiation Therapy treatment.
It is useful clinically in patients with cancer, as well as conditions affecting the brain and the heart.
In diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, where there is no gross structural abnormality, PET is able to show a biochemical change.
The field of PET has been emerging into clinical diagnostic medicine since the the late 1980's and is approved by many insurance carriers, including Medicare, for coverage.
A specially trained technologist will perform the exam, and will explain the entire procedure. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask the technologist, as he/she will be happy to answer them for you.
For additional information or if you have any further questions, please call the Nuclear Medicine Department at 715-387-5394.