Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a major diagnostic imaging modality used predominantly in determining the presence and severity of cancers, neurological conditions, and cardiovascular disease. It is currently the most effective way to check for cancer recurrences and it offers significant advantages over other forms of imaging such as CT or MRI scans in detecting disease in many patients.
PET images demonstrate the chemistry of organs and other tissues such as tumors. A radiopharmaceutical, such as FDG (fluorodeoxyglucose), which includes both sugar (glucose) and a radionuclide (a radioactive element) that gives off signals, is injected into the patient, and its emissions are measured by a PET scanner.
A PET scanner consists of an array of detectors that surround the patient. Using the gamma ray signals given off by the injected radionuclide, PET measures the amount of metabolic activity at a site in the body and a computer reassembles the signals into images. Cancer cells have higher metabolic rates than normal cells, so they show up as denser areas on a PET scan. PET is useful in diagnosing certain cardiovascular and neurological diseases because it highlights areas with increased, diminished or no metabolic activity, thereby pinpointing problems. View our Ordering Procedures for PET CT Procedures.
History of PET
PET and CT
PET and Cancer
What should I expect?
Learn more at Society of Nuclear Medicine.