What is a PET Scan?

What is a PET Scan?



The biggest advantage of a PET scan, compared to an MRI scan or X-ray, is that it can reveal how a part of the patient’s body is functioning, rather than just how it looks. Medical researchers find this aspect of PET scans particularly useful.

PET scans are commonly used to investigate the following conditions:

  • Epilepsy – it can reveal which part of the patient’s brain is being affected by epilepsy. This helps doctors decide on the most suitable treatments.MRI and/or CT scans are recommended for people after a first seizure, this study explains.
  • Alzheimer’s disease – it is very useful in helping the doctor diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. A PET scan that measures uptake of sugar in the brain significantly improves the accuracy of diagnosing a type of dementia often mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease, a study revealed.
  • Cancer – PET scans can show up a cancer, reveal the stage of the cancer, show whether the cancer has spread, help doctors decide on the most appropriate cancer treatment, and give doctors an indication on the effectiveness of ongoing chemotherapy. A PET scan several weeks after starting radiation treatment for lung cancer can indicate whether the tumor will respond to the treatment, a study showed. This article looks at whether PET scans are beneficial during cancer diagnosis, staging and monitoring.
  • Heart disease – a PET scan helps detect which specific parts of the heart have been damaged or scarred. Any faults in the working of the heart are more likely to be revealed with the help of a PET scan. A study revealed how comprehensive diagnosis of heart disease based on a single CT scan is possible.
  • Medical research – researchers, especially those involved in how the brain functions get a great deal of vital data from PET scans.


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