A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a type of imaging test that involves the injection of a radioactive chemical, or radiotracer. The radiotracer is absorbed by tissues and organs. Then, the radiology technologist positions the patient on an exam table, which is placed into the middle of the PET scanner. The images from the PET scan are produced by converting the energy emitted by the radiotracer into images. There are a number of reasons why a physician might ask that a patient undergo a PET scan near San Antonio.
A PET scan can be useful for determining if a mass is a cancerous tumor, and if so, for staging the cancer. Cancer staging is the process of establishing how advanced the cancer is. At first, cancer is localized to its point of origin. Later, it may spread to other tissues. Cancer cells can also enter the lymphatic system, where it can readily invade other parts of the body. PET scans can reveal whether the cancer has spread. This information is critical for the treatment planning process . If the PET scan reveals that the cancer is still localized, the oncologist might recommend surgery as an initial treatment.
Alzheimer’s disease gradually inflicts disabling symptoms and it is always fatal. However, new treatments are being researched that might help combat Alzheimer’s symptoms before the disease significantly progresses. In order to administer these treatments to the appropriate patients, doctors need to be able to diagnose Alzheimer’s before symptoms are apparent. PET scans play a crucial role in this developing area. These imaging tests are capable of detecting the biological changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s before any other test currently available.
Brain Disorder Diagnosis
Another reason why physicians might refer their patients to an imaging center for a PET scan is to confirm a diagnosis of a suspected brain disorder. Other imaging tests can reveal the internal structures of the body. PET scans can not only depict the structure, but also the function. With a PET scan of the brain, healthcare providers are able to determine whether a patient might be suffering from Parkinson’s disease or another movement disorder. PET scans are helpful for neurosurgeons preparing for epilepsy surgery. They can also reveal the presence of brain tumors.
The technology used for medical imaging near San Antonio and beyond has undergone significant improvements over the years. For example, physicians have realized the benefits of combining certain medical images produced by positron emission tomography (PET) scans and computed tomography (CT) scans. Sometimes, CT scans are combined with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The combination of different medical images is known as co-registration or image fusion.
Benefits of PET/CT Scans
Your doctor may refer you to a radiology center that offers this technology because a combined PET/CT scan produces medical images that detect the precise location of unusual metabolic activity. PET scans allow physicians to evaluate the functions of the body , including glucose metabolism and oxygen use. CT scans allow physicians to examine detailed images of internal structures. When these medical images are combined, they often lead to a more accurate diagnosis and subsequently, better treatment planning.
Reasons for PET/CT Scans
Combined PET/CT scans are often used for the detection of cancerous tumors. Active tumors metabolize glucose quickly. This allows the PET scan to pinpoint tumors based on their metabolism. The medical images provided by the CT scan allow physicians to evaluate the size and location of the tumor. In addition to detecting cancer, PET/CT scans may be used to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond its point of origin, whether a patient has recurrent cancer, and whether a cancer treatment plan has been effective. Oncology isn’t the only healthcare specialty in which PET/CT scans are used, however. A PET/CT scan is helpful for evaluating brain function, checking for brain abnormalities such as central nervous system disorders, analyzing the effects of a heart attack on the heart muscle, and developing treatment recommendations for heart patients.
Preparation for Combined Scans
If your radiology center has a PET/CT unit, you can have both of these scans performed at the same time. Some preparation is required for this exam. For at least four to six hours before your appointment, you must avoid eating and drinking anything other than water. Do not exercise on the day of your appointment and dress comfortably when you go to the center. This painless exam may take one to two hours to complete.
You’ll also find that we take a different approach to medical images than most healthcare centers. We pride ourselves on building a team of leading radiology professionals who are dedicated to putting patients first, and Dr. Mario Ruiz is no exception. Dr. Ruiz focuses primarily on medical images for pediatric patients; however, he enjoys working with a diverse range of patients.
Before joining Concord Imaging in 2008, Dr. Marco Ruiz earned his medical degree from Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City. This private university is known for its rigorous selection process and accepts only the brightest of students. After receiving his medical degree in Guatemala, Dr. Ruiz went on to complete his residency at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He later completed fellowships in Body Imaging and Pediatric Radiology, and he added a Certificate of Added Qualification in Pediatric Radiology to his impressive list of credentials.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of exam that produces medical images for diagnostic purposes. An MRI is a noninvasive test that involves the use of a very powerful magnetic field and radio waves, which enable radiology specialists to view images of soft tissues, bones, organs, and other structures on a computer. If your doctor has asked that you undergo an MRI, you can call the medical imaging center ahead of time to inquire about MRI scan prep near San Antonio.
You may be asked to change into a hospital gown for your exam. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing that will be easy to change. Unless you are informed otherwise, there are no restrictions on food or liquid intake prior to the exam. Take your medications as usual, unless advised otherwise. Since the MRI uses a magnetic field, you will not be able to wear any metallic objects. You may need to remove your earrings, watch, hearing aid, hairpins, and any clothing that has zippers, buckles, or other metallic objects. Before the exam, the radiology technologist will need to know if you have a medical condition that could affect the test. Inform the technologist if you could be pregnant, if you have allergies, or if you’ve had surgery. He or she will also need to know if you have an implanted medical device, such as a pacemaker, aneurysm clip, or neurostimulator.
The exam itself typically takes less than 30 minutes. You will lie on an exam table. If contrast dye is indicated for your particular exam, the MRI technologist will insert an IV line to administer the contrast dye. Then, the exam table is slid into the MRI machine. The MRI technologist will perform the test from an adjoining room, where he or she will also monitor you throughout the procedure. You will hear some repetitive thumping noises; this is perfectly normal. You may also receive instructions from the technologist during the exam. For example, you may be asked to tap your thumb or respond to questions.
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