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.
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.
Medical imaging plays an important role in both diagnosing various medical conditions and tracking the effectiveness of treatments. If your physician refers you to an imaging center in San Antonio , this video will help you understand some of the tests you may undergo.
For patients, medical imaging tests are generally painless. Most of them involve very little, if any, preparation. The test your physician requests depends on what structures in the body he or she needs to see. For instance, a CT scan uses X-ray waves to create images and is ideal for getting a detailed look at the bones. MRI imaging uses magnetic fields and radio waves to scan the body and provides clear imaging of soft tissue and organs. The technician performing your test will explain what to expect and will answer any questions you may have.
3D mammography offers multiple benefits over traditional imaging tests that can translate into early breast cancer diagnoses. If you are in need of a mammogram, ask your physician to refer you to Concord Imaging Center in San Antonio so that you can receive a 3D mammogram for the most reliable imaging results.
One of the many advantages of 3D mammograms is their ability to detect abnormal tissue masses that may otherwise go unseen until they have gotten larger on 2D tests. Identifying these areas of tissue early means that treatments can begin sooner, which can be life-saving. 3D mammograms are also better at scanning dense breast tissue, which is a particular issue in young women. Dense tissue can obscure abnormal tissue, which could delay diagnosis. Women also get more peace of mind from 3D mammograms. Because the mammography images are clearer and more detailed with 3D imaging, it reduces the risk of false positives that can lead to unnecessary anxiety and medical testing for non-cancerous cases.
If you have been referred to an imaging center in San Antonio for testing, your radiologist will discuss the procedure with you and tell you how to prepare. It’s important for you to alert your radiologist to any conditions or concerns you may have that could interfere with the test. To make sure your medical imaging test is as safe and effective as possible, be sure to discuss these factors with your radiologist.
Your radiologist needs to know if you are pregnant or if you could be pregnant. Some imaging tests and some of the tracers used for imaging tests are not safe for a developing fetus. If you are pregnant, X-rays, CT scans, and nuclear medicine tests may not be safe. Ultrasounds and MRIs are generally considered to be acceptable during pregnancy, but your radiologist and doctor will work together to make the right decision for you.
Some medical imaging tests ask patients to stay in a certain position or enclosed area for an extended period of time. For some people, this can trigger symptoms of claustrophobia. If you are concerned about experiencing claustrophobia during your imaging test, then let your radiologist know. He or she can offer advice that could make you feel more confident about the test. Your doctor may also provide you with a sedative to make the test more comfortable.
Make your radiologist aware of any implanted devices you have, so that he or she can make the appropriate adjustment to your test. Joint replacement implants and breast implants can affect the appearance of your medical imaging test and may interfere with the ability to see certain parts of your anatomy. Some implanted devices, such as pacemakers, are not compatible with certain types of imaging tests, as the tests can disrupt the way the device works. Inform your radiologist about any implanted devices you have, even if they are not in the area of your body that is being scanned.
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