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.
Computed tomography, or CT scans , use x-rays to develop highly detailed, cross-sectional images of the body. Compared to conventional x-rays, CT scans can depict soft tissues, bones, blood vessels, and organs with impressive clarity. Before you get a CT scan in San Antonio, call the imaging center and ask whether there is anything you should do to prepare for your appointment.
CT imaging is painless and safe.
CT scans, also called CAT scans, are non-invasive tests that don’t cause any pain. Some patients need to receive contrast material before the scan begins. If the contrast dye is given intravenously, you’ll feel a slight pinch when the needle is inserted. The discomfort is only temporary. Radiology specialists are committed to maintaining the highest standards of patient safety. There is always a slight risk associated with any type of radiation, but CT scans are widely considered safe. However, if you’re receiving contrast dye, the technologist will need to know about reactions to previous contrast dye injections, allergies to medications or shellfish, diabetes, or asthma, or conditions that affect the kidneys, heart, or thyroid.
It’s important to remain as still as possible.
Once the CT technologist positions you on the exam table, he or she will go into a separate room to begin the exam. At this point, you must remain as still as you can, since even slight movements can cause the images to be blurry. If the technologist needs to image your chest or abdomen, you’ll likely be asked to hold your breath for brief periods of time.
Special considerations apply to expecting and breastfeeding mothers.
Since CT scans use x-ray technology, it is not safe to have these exams during pregnancy. Instead, the doctor will likely request an ultrasound, which uses sound waves and doesn’t harm the unborn baby. Always let the staff know if you’re pregnant, or if there’s a possibility that you might be pregnant. If you’re breastfeeding, you can receive a CT scan. However, you’ll be unable to breastfeed for 24 hours afterward if you receive contrast dye material. You can pump and store extra breast milk in anticipation of this waiting period. To maintain your milk production, you can continue to pump breast milk during the 24-hour period. However, you’ll need to discard it instead of feeding it to your baby.
The terms “radiology technologists” and “ radiologists ” are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. If you visit an imaging center in San Antonio, you’ll likely meet a radiology technologist first. This person will get you ready for the exam ,adjust the equipment and perform most exams. Radiology technologists are also typically responsible for positioning patients and taking steps to minimize radiation exposure. Radiology technologists are required to complete certain educational and training requirements. They typically have an Associates degree.
Although radiology technologists perform important responsibilities within an imaging center, they cannot actually interpret or “read” the exam. This is the role of the radiologist. Radiologists are medical doctors who have completed four years of medical school after earning a college degree. They must also complete four years of radiology residency. All that education and training allows radiologists to safely and accurately interpret exams such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and nuclear medicine exams. Radiologists can alsoperform procedures such as biopsies and fluoroscopy exams like Upper GI series and barium enemas. . Since radiologists are medical doctors, they must maintain licensure in the state in which they practice.
When it’s time to make an appointment at an imaging center for a mammogram, consider asking whether you would benefit from 3D mammography. Radiologists in San Antonio strongly recommend 3D mammograms because they offer significant advantages over traditional mammograms . These advantages can help save lives.
When you watch this featured video, you’ll meet Lori, who went to an imaging center for a routine mammogram and got a call back. She had an MRI and ultrasound, which were both inconclusive. Then, she got a 3D mammogram and the radiologist was able to detect the tumor. Her doctor explains that 3D mammograms increase cancer detection rates dramatically, plus, they result in fewer call backs because of false positives. Lori, who is now in remission, credits the technology with saving her life.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scanners are based on incredibly complex technology. Before you head over to the radiology center near San Antonio for your PET brain scan , take a few minutes to watch this featured video. It explains that the nuclear medicine technologist will inject a specially prepared, radioactive tracer material into your bloodstream before the test. Then, your exam table will slide into the PET scanner.
This video explains that the radioactive atoms inside the tracer give off positrons, which are subatomic particles. When a positron strikes an electron, the particles destroy each other and release energy as gamma rays that travel in opposite directions out of the patient. The PET scanner detects the gamma rays and calculates the exact position of the tracer. The results allow the radiologist to examine a precise, 3D image of the bodily structure.
A computed tomography (CT) scan or CAT scan is just one of the sophisticated tests you’ll find at Concord Imaging in San Antonio. If you have safety concerns about radiology exams, please feel free to discuss these with your doctor or the radiology professional. During your CT scan, you’ll be exposed to low levels of radiation, as the CT scanner uses X-ray technology to create medical images. There is a risk of cancer caused by radiation and CT scans expose patients to higher levels of radiation compared to the typical dose of a chest X-ray. However, medical experts tend to agree that the risk of cancer caused by radiation is generally smaller than a person’s natural risk of cancer.
Some patients undergoing CT scans are asked to receive a contrast agent prior to the exam. The contrast agent helps to improve the clarity of the medical images. Rarely, some people may experience allergic reactions from this substance. Your doctor might recommend a different medical imaging test if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to the risk of radiation to the child.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition for which there is no cure, but early detection and treatment can greatly slow the development of the disease. In the past, diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease early has been difficult, but PET scan s are changing that. Thanks to this kind of medical imaging in San Antonio, early Alzheimer’s diagnosis is possible, which gives patients and their families more time to enjoy life without symptoms and to plan for future care needs.
PET scans are helpful in early Alzheimer’s diagnoses because they allow a radiologist to detect minute changes in the brain’s chemistry that are associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. By recognizing these changes, your doctor can begin treatments, often when symptoms are very minimal. Although the treatments cannot cure Alzheimer’s or ultimately stop it from worsening, early intervention can dramatically slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Medical imaging tests are used to both diagnose heart disease and monitor its progression. Your cardiologist may recommend imaging tests to determine what part of your heart is damaged, to evaluate how well your current treatment plan is working, and to see if your condition is getting worse. There are a number of different imaging tests that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, from X-rays to MRI scans in San Antonio . Here are some of the medical imaging exams you might undergo in your treatment for heart disease.
A chest X-ray is a painless test that uses a small amount of radiation to create an image of the organs and bones in your chest cavity, including your heart. Your doctor may order a chest X-ray if he or she suspects you have congenital heart disease, an enlarged heart, or blood vessel problems. A chest X-ray can also be used to identify calcium and plaque buildup in your blood vessels and heart that can increase your risk of having a heart attack. If you have a pacemaker or other heart device, then your doctor may also order an X-ray to make sure it is in the right place.
Cardiac CT Scan
A CT scan—or computed tomography—is used to create a 3D image of your heart. It is primarily used to find or monitor the presence of calcium deposits within plaque in the heart and arteries. It allows your doctor to diagnose atherosclerosis, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, before any symptoms begin, so that you can begin treatment early. CT scans can also be used to see if calcium deposits are increasing or if they are being adequately controlled by your current treatment plan. The test is painless, except for minor discomfort some patients experience when they receive an injection of contrast dye before the test.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, tests use a magnetic field and radio waves to create a detailed image of the structures of the heart. They can be used to determine how well the different components of the heart are functioning and to monitor the progression of heart disease. They can also be used to see if the treatments being used for your heart disease are effective.
Doctors recommend that most women begin having mammograms annually when they turn 40 and earlier or more often if they have certain risk factors. If your doctor refers you to an imaging center in San Antonio for your first mammogram, it is natural to have some nervousness about what to expect. Fortunately, most women find mammograms much easier than they have imaged them. If you are feeling nervous about your mammogram, here are some ways to cope with your anxiousness.
Sometimes, knowledge is the best way to overcome nervousness. When your doctor refers you for your mammogram, ask him or her to explain what to expect. The staff at your imaging center can also explain the process to you. By going into the mammogram with an understanding of the process, you can feel more confident about your appointment. If your anxiety revolves around the test results and the prospect of finding out that you have breast cancer or another health issue, ask your doctor to tell you exactly when you can expect to hear from him or her.
Talk to Your Friends
Sometimes, there is nothing as comforting as hearing someone you trust explain her own mammogram experiences to you. Most women have anxiety about getting their first mammograms and then discover that the test is fast and easy and only causes a small amount of discomfort if it causes any at all. You can even ask a friend to go with you to help keep your nerves under control.
Tell the Imaging Center Staff
It can be helpful to tell the imaging center staff that it is your first mammogram and that you are nervous about the experience. They will be more than willing to explain the entire process to you and to go slowly, telling you want to expect at each stage. You may be surprised how quickly the test is over when you feel comfortable and let go of your nervousness about the procedure.
Radiologists in San Antonio routinely take X-rays to look for many different health problems, including bone fractures, blood clots, and tumors. If you have concerns about the safety of X-rays , feel free to discuss them with a radiology specialist at the imaging center. You may be reassured to know that X-rays help diagnose more cases of cancer than they cause. In addition, the amount of radiation used in modern X-rays is minimal.
You can learn more about X-rays by watching this informative video. You’ll learn how X-rays were first discovered and how they were initially used for an incredible range of purposes, including non-medical activities. Fortunately, modern radiologists know a great deal more about using X-rays safely.
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