What is PET?
A powerful, non-invasive, diagnostic tool, positron emission tomography (PET) detects biochemical changes in body tissues. Virtually all diseases alter the body's biochemical processes. By detecting these changes, PET can provide diagnostic answers that cannot be reached using other imaging techniques. Whereas CT and MRI reveal structural changes in the body, PET has the ability to identify early biochemical markers of disease before structural changes have occurred.
How does PET work?
Before undergoing a PET scan, patients receive an injection of a tracer, an imaging agent which the body easily absorbs and eliminates. The patient lies on a table that slides slowly through the scanner, which covers only a small portion of the body at a given time. By detecting the tracer in the patient, the PET scanner can create a color-coded image of the body's chemical function.
PET scans typically take approximately half an hour (cardiac cases take longer) and expose patients to a safe level of radiation. Most patients can return to their normal activities immediately following the scan. Specially trained radiologists, such as the faculty of Columbia Kreitchman PET Center, interpret the PET scans and write up detailed reports explaining their findings. The referring physician then reviews those findings with the patient.
How does PET technology help?
PET is revolutionizing the fields of oncology (cancer), cardiology, neurology, and psychiatry, with a major impact on patient management.
PET helps physicians to improve the accuracy of diagnosis, create an individualized treatment plan, and closely monitor a patient's progress by providing:
· More detailed diagnostic information than other imaging techniques
· Shorter timeframe to reach a definitive diagnosis, resulting in fewer invasive diagnostic procedures and fewer surgeries
· Precise staging of disease, including early identification of recurrences
What is PET-CT ?
A dual-purpose imaging device, PET-CT is literally the combination of PET (positron emission tomography) and CT (computed tomography) imaging techniques within a single machine. The individual scans, which are taken virtually simultaneously, can be presented separately or as a single, overlapping "fused" PET-CT image.
The two individual techniques present different types of information about the human body:
· PET shows metabolic or chemical activity in the body
· CT shows the body's anatomical structures.
For example, a PET scan would highlight a tumor's level of activity such as increased glucose consumption; while a CT scan would elucidate its physical characteristics including size, shape and precise location.
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