Relatively new developments in medical imaging technology allow patients to receive a more definitive diagnosis when Alzheimer’s is suspected. Before the PET brain scan for Alzheimer’s was developed, patients had to rely on genetic screenings and neurologic tests that assessed memory and brain function. However, by performing a PET scan near San Antonio, doctors can determine whether patients have amyloid plaques in their brains, which is characteristic of Alzheimer’s. Watch this video to hear more about this innovative use of PET scan technology.
You’ll meet Alex Dreyfus, a man in his 80s who graduated from MIT and Harvard, and enjoys flying planes during his leisure time. He began to notice that he was having some memory problems, so he opted to undergo a PET scan. The scan revealed the complete absence of amyloid plaques, giving Mr. Dreyfus a new lease on life.
Cancer develops when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrollable manner. Eventually, this causes the formation of a tumor. Patients who are suspected of having cancer can generally expect to undergo many different medical tests to confirm that they have cancer, determine what type of cancer it is, and establish the stage of cancer. One helpful test for oncology patients is the PET scan . Undergoing a PET scan near San Antonio allows the healthcare provider to learn a great deal about a particular case of cancer.
The positron emission tomography (PET) scan consists of the injection of a radioactive tracer into the patient. The patient’s cells begin to interact with the injected glucose. Researchers know that active tumors absorb glucose at a faster rate than normal cells. The scanner detects the metabolic signal of the cancerous cells that are absorbing the glucose. This allows the doctor to readily identify cancerous tumors in the body.
A PET scan for cancer may be combined with a computed tomography (CT) scan. Although the technologist can detect the presence of cancer with the PET scan, combining this technology with a CT scan allows the doctor to precisely pinpoint the location, size, and shape of the cancerous tumor. A combined PET/CT scan can be performed at the same time. In this manner, physicians can readily determine the stage of the cancer. Advanced stage cancers have already spread to other areas of the body beyond their point of origin. This is significant because the stage of the cancer informs the treatment planning process. For example, a breast cancer patient with noninvasive in situ cancer will not usually undergo chemotherapy, yet an oncologist would typically recommend that a premenopausal woman with aggressive breast cancer undergo chemotherapy.
Evaluating the Success of Cancer Treatments
PET scan technology may be used even after the patient has already undergone cancer treatments. After going through a round of chemotherapy, for example, having another PET/CT scan allows physicians to determine whether the tumors responded to the drug that was used. If the patient had surgery to remove a tumor, the results of a PET/CT scan can determine whether some cancerous cells still linger in the scar tissue.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in women in the U.S. Although this disease can be deadly, patients have a better chance of beating it if they begin treatment as early as possible. This is why 3D mammography near San Antonio is so important. When women undergo a yearly screening test for breast cancer with 3D mammography technology, the radiology technologist can analyze the medical images for signs of possible abnormalities.
If any abnormalities are detected, the patient may undergo additional testing such as a biopsy to definitively determine whether or not the growth is cancerous. By detecting breast cancer as early as possible, there is not only a greater chance of survival; there is also a better chance that the patient will need to undergo less invasive treatments. For example, if the tumor is detected when it is still small, the patient may only need to undergo a lumpectomy to remove a portion of the breast, rather than a mastectomy to remove the entire breast.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams are a common type of test performed at a center for medical imaging near San Antonio. Unlike an x-ray, this type of exam involves the use of a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce medical images. There are many reasons why a physician might request that a patient undergo an MRI .
Brain and Spinal Cord
An MRI exam is frequently used to examine the central nervous system (CNS). Patients might undergo an MRI if they are suspected of having tumors in the brain or spine, or if they have spinal cord injuries. An MRI can also reveal the presence of aneurysms, and disorders of the inner ear and eyes. This test is performed to evaluate patients for multiple sclerosis, stroke, hormonal disorders, brain hemorrhage, brain infection, and brain birth defect.
Bone and Joints
Orthopedic specialists commonly refer patients to an imaging center for an MRI because this exam can help them identify arthritis and other joint disorders. The images produced by an MRI exam may reveal abnormalities of the intervertebral discs, bone infections, and bone tumors. Patients who have suffered traumatic or repetitive injuries to the joints might also have an MRI exam to check for joint abnormalities.
Heart and Blood Vessels
An MRI exam can tell physicians a great deal about a patient’s heart, including the size of the heart and its chambers, and how well these structures are functioning. An MRI will reveal the thickness of the walls of the heart and their movement. Patients who have suffered a heart attack and those who have been diagnosed with heart disease may have an MRI exam to allow the cardiologist to evaluate the extent of the damage . Additionally, an MRI may be performed to assess whether there is inflammation or obstructions of the blood vessels, or aneurysms or dissections of the aorta.
Mammography is considered to be the gold standard of breast cancer detection. However, for some women, it can be helpful to have a breast MRI in addition to a mammogram. Women who have a high risk of breast cancer and those with dense breast tissue may wish to ask their physicians for a referral for an MRI exam.
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