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Examining the Role of PET Scans in Alzheimer's Detection

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating diagnosis, but identifying the condition early so that treatment can begin may slow the progression of the symptoms. PET scans have become an important part of diagnosing and tracking the disease progression. If you or a loved one has been referred for a PET scan in San Antonio for Alzheimer’s testing, here is what you need to know. alzheimers - scan

What is a PET scan?

Positron emission tomography—or PET—scans are a type of medical imaging test that rely on the use of a radioactive tracer. The tracer is injected before the scan and is absorbed by organs and soft tissue to make them easier to see. PET scans are different from other types of imaging tests because they allow physicians to see metabolic changes on the cellular level that are occurring in tissues. This ability is why PET scans are so commonly used during cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as Alzheimer’s disease management.

How are PET scans used for Alzheimer’s disease?

If your physician suspects that you have Alzheimer’s disease, then he or she may refer you for a PET scan to see what is happening in your brain. On a PET scan, your physician can see bundles of abnormal cells called plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques are often visible before symptoms appear, which allows for earlier diagnosis than ever before. Your doctor may order a PET scan if you have any symptoms of the disease, if your lab tests indicate that you could have Alzheimer’s disease, or if you have a family history of the condition and wish to have some peace of mind.

What are the benefits of PET scans for Alzheimer’s?

The potential for early diagnosis is extremely beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients. The earlier someone with the disease takes medications, the more likely it is that they will be able to delay the progression of symptoms. PET scans are also helping people with dementia who might otherwise be treated for Alzheimer’s but who don’t actually have it get an accurate diagnosis so that they can receive the appropriate treatment.