Nuclear Medicine is a branch of Medical Imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body. Nuclear Medicine is able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, therefore it has the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages.
Unlike other imaging techniques, nuclear medicine imaging exams focus on depicting physiologic processes within the body, such as rates of metabolism or levels of various other chemical activity, instead of showing anatomy and structure. Areas of greater intensity, called “hot spots,” indicate where large amounts of the radiotracer have accumulated and where there is a high level of chemical or metabolic activity. Less intense areas, or “cold spots,” indicate a smaller concentration of radiotracer and less chemical activity.
Typically a patient will be given an injection of a radioactive isotope and may be asked to wait a moderate amount of time before the scan. In some cases, the patient may be asked to return the following day(s) to complete a particular phase of the examination.
PET/CT – Positron Emission Tomography
Positron Emission Tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET Scan, is a type of Nuclear Medicine Imaging. A PET scan measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use and sugar (glucose) metabolism to help physicians evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning.
At CTMC, our PET scans are performed on a combined PET and CT scanner. The combined PET and CT scans provide images that pinpoint the location of abnormal metabolic activity within the body. The combined scans have been shown to provide more accurate diagnosis than the two scans performed separately.
To name a few of its uses, PET/CT is performed to detect cancer, determine whether a cancer has spread, assess the effectiveness of a treatment plan such as cancer therapy, determine if cancer has returned after treatment and evaluate brain abnormalities such as tumors, memory disorders and seizures.