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PET-Scan (Tomography), What is it?

The PET-Scan, whose name comes from the English "positron emission tomography," is a nuclear medicine exam often called PET or positron emission tomography. Like scintigraphy, it consists of analyzing the functioning of an organ or a structure of the body using a contrast product injected into the patient. The radiotracer reacts in a certain way by meeting the organs and in the presence of an anomaly.

Images of these reactions are captured by a machine and reproduced on a computer screen. The three-dimensional reconstruction makes it possible to visualize the zones of high concentration of the tracer (zones in red). The doctor can identify an abnormality or pathology. The main advantage of PET-Scan is that it allows obtaining 3D cuts, which is not the case of scintigraphy. This technique is particularly useful in oncology for detecting or monitoring a tumor.

Why prescribe a tomography?

PET CT scan is mainly prescribed:

  • In oncology to detect metastases, to know the effectiveness of treatment put in place or to confirm a tumor recurrence when a blood test revealed an increase in tumor markers.
  • In cardiology to study the functioning of the myocardium (for example after a heart attack) or coronary arteries
  • In neurology to confirm the presence of brain damage and degenerative disease such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

There are several tracers. The choice of doctor depends on the pathology sought or the type of tumor.

How does a PET scan work?

In total, the PET scan takes about two hours. Intravenous injection of the radioactive substance is the first step. The patient remains to lie down, usually one hour. This is the time normally required for the contrast material to enter the body and reach the organs to be examined. The patient, still lying on his back, is then placed for about twenty minutes in a machine equipped with a ring-shaped opening. That's when PET images are made. The results cannot be communicated immediately after the examination because the study of the images takes a certain time.

According to the results of the PET CT examination is determined:

  • The presence and nature of tumor lesions, recurrence of the disease or metastasis of cancer at an early stage;
  • The presence of vascular disorders, post-traumatic changes, foci of epilepsy and Parkinsonism in the brain, as well as causes of dementia;
  • The viability of the myocardium (heart muscle) in ischemic heart disease, congenital heart defects.

What are the risks of PET CT scan?

PET-Scan is a reliable test that has no adverse effect on health. Some mild allergic reactions are sometimes observed at the injection site. It can be achieved during pregnancy. As a precaution, breastfeeding should be stopped for the next 12 hours if the tracer used is 18F-fluorinated fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG).

Is PET-Scan painful?

No, PET-Scan is an entirely painless test except for the bite that can cause temporary itching. Positron emission tomography is the most informative methods used in the diagnosis of malignant and benign tumors, as well as other problems, accompanied by a violation of biochemical processes in various organs and tissues. Today, most cancer centers use a more informative version of the study of PET CT.

PET, A Test Increasingly Requested in Oncology But Limited by Its High Price

If you have been treated for cancer, it is normal that you want to do everything possible to ensure that you do not return. But you may not need the tests, and your risks may be greater than the benefits. Below is the reason:

In general, PET-CT scans do not help people who have completed cancer treatments and have no symptoms.

For most cancers, these tests do not help you live longer or have a better quality of life. If you have the tomographies done without a good reason, they can produce anxiety, wrong diagnoses, false alarms, unnecessary procedures, and more costs.

Often, there are better ways to monitor your condition:

  • It is alert to symptoms that could mean that cancer has returned.
  • Get regular exams that include a medical history and a medical exam.
  • For some cancers, there are simple tests you should do, such as mammograms for women who have been treated for breast cancer.
  • Ask your doctor what proof, if any, is appropriate for your situation.

PET and PET-CT scans have risks.

Performing whole body PET scans Delhi can contribute to stress as a cancer survivor. Often, these tests detect medical problems that are not serious. This could cause more tests and procedures, including follow-up scans, and even biopsies and surgery.

In addition, PET scans, and especially PET-CT scans expose you to high levels of radiation. The effects of radiation accumulate throughout your life. This can increase your risk of cancer. They should not do multiple CT scans unless there is medical evidence that shows they would help you. Ask your consulted doctor if it is a good idea to have multiple CT scans.

So, when is a good idea to have a PET scan after treatment?

A PET scan or PET-CT scan may be helpful if your doctor suspects that your cancer has returned, based on your symptoms, a medical exam or other tests. A CT scan may also be suggested if you were given treatment for advanced cancer, and your doctor needs to find out if your most recent treatment was effective.

Positron emission tomography (known as PET, according to the acronym in English) is the newest of these non-invasive diagnostic techniques introduced within the field of nuclear medicine. PET brings together the most advanced physics, electronics, and computer engineering, disciplines on which it has depended for its development and implementation in clinical practice. But its use is being held back by the high price of the test.

The latest generation scanners of PET CT scan are not claustrophobic for the patient and allow obtaining high-quality full body images in a reasonable time of 30 to 60 minutes. The PET obtains images of the whole organism thanks to the action of diverse molecules marked with isotopes (radioactive drugs) emitting positrons (subatomic particles), which have been previously injected to the patient by the intravenous route.

When Do I Need to Undergo PET CT Scan ?

Computed tomography occupies a leading position in the field of visualization diagnostics. Using this method, you can select the contours, shape, and position of the tumor in the body. Positron emission tomography (PET) provides information on the metabolic activity of the tumor, in many cases accurately detect the tissue affected by cancer and confirm the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

These two processes are combined in a unique method of accurate diagnosis and tumor localization. PEC-CT can act as a tool for deciding whether surgery or chemotherapy is necessary. Using this method, you can accurately determine the size, position, activity, and area of spread of neoplastic disease. It combines the advantages of two different technologies in one device.

Benefits of PET-CT

In one session of the survey, you can determine the presence of metastases in the human body.

Immediately after the start of chemotherapy, you can determine its effectiveness. If sugar consumption in the area of cancer or metastasis is reduced, then cancer treatment is effective. If sugar consumption remains high, then it is possible at the initial stage to switch to other methods of treatment and thereby increase the chances of cure.

In the course of subsequent treatment, this diagnostic method allows to determine the possible residues of a tumor or the formation of new metastases or to exclude their presence.

You will receive an accurate diagnosis in time for an early stage of the disease. This is very important because the timely start of treatment is crucial for the treatment of cancer.

When do I need to undergo PET?

The PET CT scan method is used primarily in the diagnosis of cancer, such as cancer of the esophagus, lung or thyroid, head, and neck, including malignant lymphadenopathy (malignant lymphomas). With the help of PET-CT is determined by the focus of cancer lesions. Also, the examination reveals the degree of malignancy of the tumor and the stage of the disease. This is very important for the selection of a suitable treatment method, including the elimination of unnecessary therapeutic measures.

During or immediately after the end of treatment against cancer, the PET-CT method allows to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. Also, PET is used to diagnose diseases of the heart and nervous system. The areas of application include, above all, the definition or exclusion of stitches before heart bypass surgery, as well as in dementia.

How is the examination?

For the examination, a small amount of a short-lived radioactive drug is administered to the patient. The patient lies comfortably on his back, if possible not moving. The medical couch gradually passes through a rather wide opening in the apparatus. The PET scanner is silent. The examination is performed using a PET scanner, which visually resembles a Computed Tomography (CT).

That is, it is not a narrow tunnel as in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). During the examination, the PET CT scan camera takes phased shots of the entire body. A computer connected to the camera analyzes the received data and outputs a complex image. It shows how the radioactive substance has spread throughout the body.

The examination time is from 20 to 45 minutes. After that, the obtained images are reconstructed on a computer to obtain the final result of the analysis. Sometimes, for a better examination of the epigastric region, an antispasmodic is introduced into the body to suspend the active activity of the colon.

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