Introduction to PET

Last Modified: April 18, 2002

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This information was provided by an unrestricted educational grant from Integral PET Associates, LLC.

What You Need to Know

Technological advances are providing physicians with a better understanding of cell metabolism than ever before. At the forefront of these advances is the PET scan, which provides diagnostic information unavailable from other imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MR).

Unlike the MR and CT, which provide anatomic imaging of the physical structure of the body, a PET scan provides metabolic imaging that show how the body's organ systems function and how cells grow. The PET is able to show whether tissue is normal or abnormal based on cellular metabolism. This information can allow the physician to assess chemical and physiological changes related to metabolism. PET images can therefore demonstrate pathological changes long before they would be revealed in a CT or MR.

PET can help physicians with early diagnosis of a disease and provide additional information that can help predict a patient's eligibility for surgery. PET can also help physicians monitor a patient's response to treatment as well as identify distant metastasis that can affect treatment, helping curtail ineffective treatments and reduce unnecessary invasive procedures.

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