A P.E.T. scan (Positron Emission Tomography) is one of the most advanced imaging and diagnostic techniques in modern medicine. For mesothelioma patients, people with other forms of cancer, and those suffering debilitating neurological conditions, it’s powerful imaging technology that can make a world of difference.
What is P.E.T. and How Does it Work?
Positron Emission Tomography is a form of imaging using radiation to analyze bodily activity. A low dose radioactive substance (typically a sugar) is injected into a patient and the scan analyzes bodily activity by detecting where the substance settles.
This is especially helpful to people suffering from cancer. Cancerous cells have a higher glycotic rate than normal cells and will thus show higher concentrations of a the radioactive sugar than normal healthy areas of the body.
How do I Prepare for a P.E.T. Scan?
* You should not eat for at least 4 hours before the scan
* You should drink a few cups of water
* Your doctor will advise you on any medications you are taking and if any changes in dosage should be made before your procedure
What Happens During the Procedure?
First a tracer substance is produced. This substance is radioactive but is concentrated in a very small amount so as not to inflict any residual harm. The substance is then attached to glucose, water, or another common substance used by your body. It is then injected and once administered, the substance will localize in specific areas of the body and it will then be picked up by the scanner. It will take anywhere from 30-90 minutes to travel through your bloodstream and scanning will take approximately 30-45 minutes.
What Shows up in my Scan? What Does it Tell my Doctor?
Properly functioning areas of the body use normal amounts of metabolic substances and those areas will have an average concentration of the injected substance. Cancerous and malfunctioning areas will have even higher concentrations as they have different metabolic needs and will show up much brighter on the scan.
A radiologist will then analyze the scan looking for discolorations and determine appropriate action.
What are the Risks?
If you have diabetes or you eat before your test, the results will be skewed. Women who are pregnant or nursing should consider alternative procedures. Consult your radiologist if you have any concerns.
Remember that while it is a very powerful diagnostic tool, it works best when combined with other procedures to form a complete picture of your medical situation.
Related: SPECT Scans