What is PET?
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is an important imaging technology that provides critical diagnostic information that other tests may not provide. To create these images, compounds like simple sugars (glucose, for example) are labeled with signal-emitting tracers and injected into the patient. The scanner records the signals these tracers emit as they travel through the body and collect in the various organs targeted for examination. The system reassembles the signals into images, resulting in detailed pictures that show biological causes of normal organ function and failure of organ systems in disease.
PET evaluates the chemical and physiological changes related to metabolism. Since functional changes occur long before structural damage occurs in tissues, this is a crucial advantage that can allow detection of disease before other imaging modalities. Early detection and treatment can have a positive impact on patient care.
Why merge PET with CT?
Also, a single PET/CT scan can give information about the functioning of the entire body. This is critical in many instances, especially in oncology, where additional tumors and the spread of disease are sometimes discovered. The replacement of multiple tests is also convenient for patients and physicians, as the extent of disease may be established more quickly and with greater confidence.
In summary, the key benefits of PET/CT:
What are the clinical applications?
For ONCOLOGY, PET alone, or in combination CT, may provide critical information about whether a tumor is malignant or not, the extent of cancer, or whether it has spread to other organs. It is also effective in monitoring cancer recurrences and the effectiveness of treatment therapy.
In CARDIOLOGY, PET provides a high level of accuracy in assessing myocardial perfusion and viability.
For NEUROLOGY, PET provides accurate information to localize the areas of the brain causing epileptic seizures and to determine if surgery is an option. PET is now approved by Medicare for reimbursement on screening for Alzheimer's Disease, as well.