Working of Positron Emission tomography (Pet) Scanners

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a diagnostic nuclear medicine imaging process that is sometimes combined with a CT scan (PET-CT scan) which enables the health care provider to determine if there is any disease in the body. PET scan helps in exposing whether how the body tissues and organs are functioning, and it uses a special dye as radioactive drug that acts as a tracer to display this activity. The radioactive tracer is swallowed, inhaled or injected into a vein in the arm, depending upon which tissue or organ has to be examined by the Positron Emission tomography (Pet) Scanner. Study on PET scanners market states than this procedure is most commonly used by oncologists with the purpose of diagnosing many types of cancer; cardiologists to diagnose cardiovascular diseases and neurologists to determine neurological disorders. PET imaging method renders a better perception of the functioning of tissues and organs and their shape, size and position.

How does the dye injected, help?

The radioactive dye tracers are injected into the vein in the arm. The tissues and organs later absorb the tracer, and it usually collects in areas of the body that has greater levels of chemical activity (that generally indicates some kind of disease). When put under a PET scanner, the tracer assists the doctor to view whether how well the tissues and the organs work. The procedure is usually and outpatient procedure, which means the patient, is allowed to leave after the tests. The PET scan can measure the flow of the oxygen, glucose metabolism, blood flow, etc. This process is different from computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), since these procedures only show the blood flow and tissue structure to and from the organs.

Why is a PET scan performed?

Generally, medical professionals suggest a PET scan to examine blood flow and overall metabolism of the organs and tissues. The procedure is most commonly used to detect:

  • Cardiac problems
  • Cancer
  • Neurological problems
  • Problems pertaining to Central Nervous System (CNS)

On the contrary to MRI or CT scans, PET scans display issues at the cellular level. This enables medical professionals to have a precise view of complex systemic disease, like:

  • Seizures
  • Brain tumors
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Memory disorders

While PET scan is exclusively used to detect cancer, it enables the medical professional to view whether how fast the cancer metabolizes, or if it has spread to new areas, etc.; furthermore, this procedure also shows hoe tumor is reacting to chemotherapy.


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