What is positron emission tomography (PET)?

A positron emission tomography scan or “PET Scan” is a type of diagnostic imaging. Doctors often recommend PET scans to get a detailed view of organs and tissue inside a patient’s body. PET scans use a chemical called “radiotracer” which is radioactive, but only a small dose is used in the imaging process. The organs and tissue absorb the radiotracer so that when the patient is scanned, the PET can detect any records of energy given off by the substance. Energy emitted from the radiotracer chemical is used to produce three-dimensional imaging so that the doctor can accurately diagnose the problem.

What can PET scans measure?

PET scans are used to measure things like:

  • Blood flow
  • Oxygen use
  • Glucose metabolism

The scan should yield information about any abnormalities in these vital functions. Doctors might also use PET scans to measure the effectiveness of a treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy.

How are PET scans different from other imaging devices?

PET scans are one option among many, such as CT scans and MRI scans, for diagnostic imaging. PET scans are different than other types of imaging devices in that they can reveal changes at the cellular level. This is both important and unique in that diseases, such as cancer, begin with changes at the cellular level. This means that PET scans can help detect diseases during their earliest stages. CT scans, on the other hand, wouldn’t be able to detect a disease until that disease is severe enough to change the structure of organs and tissue. PET scans are not recommended for people who are pregnant or think they might be pregnant, due to radiation exposure.

How fast can PET scans determine a diagnosis?

After the PET imaging is complete, your doctor should be able to get the images back and interpret them within two to three days.

Worthington & Caron, PC provides a variety of benefits to the patients they represent, not least among those is access to the nation’s leading mesothelioma physicians who can recommend appropriate diagnostic testing, like PET scans in many cases.

To learn more about how our firm might be able to help you, call us today.