Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography or PET scanning is among the most recommended of imaging techniques that is used in the prognosis, diagnosis, treatment-planning and management of patients suffering from neurological problems. Positron Emission Tomography has been found to be very useful in the detection of neurological disorders such as primary epilepsy, brain stroke and Alzheimer's besides neurological problems that cause widespread bodily-movement problems (like Parkinson’s disease).

PET is widely used as the first point of clinical assessment when a neurological disorder is suspected. Thus, patients complaining of migraine-like headaches or problems in controlling their muscular activity are often put through a PET scanner. In the healthcare niche, PET is often referred to as an 'imaging modality' which means that it is used for creating visualizations that help to study components of the human nervous system by using positron-emitting pharmaceutical radio-agents..

Understand PET

PET scans are popular among neurological centers across the world because they provide detailed, two/three-dimensional images that reflect the brain activity. PET scanning involves the injection of radioactive isotopes, i.e. radioactive agents that are injected into the bloodstream of the patient. Brain PET scans are able to detect brain tumors or any kind of diseased tissue that might be catalyzing the neurological disorder.

A detailed PET scan can help clinicians assess brain tissue metabolism apart measuring the cellular activity levels and blood-flow patterns. This is at the core of evaluating patients who show typical neurological disorder symptoms like seizures and those who are not responding to conventional medical therapy. PET scanning is also used as a part of confirmative tests that are often done after a serious accident or trauma just to ensure that there is no negative impact on the brain.

Understand PET Procedure

Positron Emission Tomography is often combined with CT and MRI scanning, helping physicians comprehensively map brain activity levels. PET scans are typically conducted in bigger medical facilities like a hospital or dedicated testing facilities, usually on an outpatient basis. During PET scans, a radioactive isotope that has the ability to bind with molecules of the blood is injected. This ensures that the isotope or tracer will enter the brain since the brain cells continuously need fresh, oxygenated blood.

The patient is then made to lie down on a movable table that is placed under some overhead sensors. These sensors are a part of the PET scanner machine that can detect gamma rays emitted by the isotope that is already within the brain tissues. The PET scanner is built in such a manner than an array of detectors surround the patient.

PET Applications: Brain Mapping Technology

PET scanning is also referred to as a Brain Mapping Technique since it yields critical information at the cellular and molecular of the brain. The PET scanner functions in highly accurate manner, being controlled by complex computerized functionalities. The information derived from the scanner is displayed on a video monitor that can be later processed on to a film. The radioactive properties of each kind of isotope are already chartered and using different kinds of radioactive compounds, the different levels of brain function can be mapped.

PET scanning can yield some immediate results such as the presence of tumor that is often the cause of neurological disorders. This can be done quickly because the metabolic activity levels of cancerous cells are much higher than that of normal cells. The higher rate of cellular activity is indicated in the form of color codes exhibited on the scanned images. In recent times, PET results have become so accurate that various types of neurological diseases can be differentiated from each other. For instance, the scanned images can differentiate Alzheimer's from similar neurological problems where reduced cognitive and intellectual capacity is indicated such as dementia, Parkinson's disease or Huntington's disease.