Positron Emission Tomography

Friday, May 14, 2010

Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging. Dr. Edward Hill concludes a week-long series on radiologic procedures in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

CT scans and MRIs are designed to look at the structure of body parts. The positron emission tomography, or PET scanner actually measures the metabolic activity of body tissues.

A PET scan may be able to help your physician decide if that mass in your body on X-ray is a scar or an active cancer. It is also used to evaluate the hearts metabolism and blood flow, detect certain types of tumors, such as lung and breast tumors, and examine brain function. It may help determine Alzheimers dementia from other types of diseases that cause memory loss.

During a PET scan, a radioactive substance called a tracer is combined with a chemical substance and either inhaled or injected into a vein. The tracer emits positronstiny, positively charged particlesthat produce signals.

A special camera records the tracers signals as it travels through the body and collects in organs. A computer then converts the signals into three-dimensional images of the examined organ.

The entire procedure takes 30 minutes to three hours to perform.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.