Often called a PET scan, positron emission tomography is an imaging technique that examines the metabolic function of your cells. It can be used for diagnosing and tracking the progress of a disease or condition.
During a PET scan, a radioactive substance called a tracer is given intravenously (IV). Some types of cells — such as cancer cells — may metabolize this substance faster than the surrounding healthy cells. Other conditions may metabolize the tracers slower than healthy tissue. Using advanced imaging technology, the PET scan shows the areas of abnormal metabolism to help pinpoint where a disease is originating in the body and how it’s progressing.
PET scans can be used to help physicians diagnose many conditions, such as:
- Heart disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Breast cancer with positron emission mammography (PEM)
Your PET scan will be combined with a CT scan, which can assist with early diagnosis, disease staging and localization, surgery and treatment planning.