What is a PET scan?
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a modality of nuclear medicine that traces and highlights regions of heightened metabolic process in the body. Prior to the PET scan, the patient is given a small dose of a positron-emitting radionuclide, or a PET tracer. It takes 30 minutes to an hour to metabolize into the body depending on the area to be studied. An image is produced when the detector modules sense pairs of gamma rays that are produced as a result of the higher concentration of radionuclide tracer in areas of the body that have elevated metabolic levels. PET applications computers allow the data to be reconstructed in many different image formats, including 3-D rendering and axial slices. A PET Scan can be performed on a standalone PET scanner, but is most often paired and integrated with a CT scan or an MRI scan to provide the most accurate and detailed images possible.