PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is a nuclear medicine-based imaging technique that can produce a detailed image or map of functional body processes. A radioactive tracer isotope, which has been chemically incorporated into a metabolically active molecule, is injected into the subject, usually via the bloodstream. After a brief waiting period, the subject or patient is placed in the imaging scanner. During the scanning process, the radioactive isotope begins to decay, and as it does, it emits a positron, which bonds with an electron, producing gamma photons which are detected once they reach the scintillator material in the scanning device. PET scans are frequently interpreted alongside data from magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI scans, since the combination of both anatomic and metabolic information simultaneously, helps to ensure a more accurate diagnosis.
This innovation in nuclear medicine has been used since 1975, when it was first developed at the University of Washington. Today, PET is used most frequently in clinical oncology applications, to search for tumors and metastases, as well as to diagnose certain brain diseases. Positron Emission Tomography uses radioactive isotopes (radioisotopes) with short half lives, such as carbon-11,
nitrogen -13, oxygen-15, and fluorine-18, and these isotopes, also known as radioactive nuclides, are combined with normally used body compounds such as ammonia, water, and glucose for safe injection, and distribution into the body.
In addition, Positron Emission Tomography is also used in the field of neurology. NPET neuron imaging is a practice that has been developed based on the idea that the more radioactive areas of the brain are closely associated with higher brain activity. PET scanning can indirectly measure the flow of blood to various parts of the brain, and is sometimes used to distinguish and diagnose the onset of Alzheimer’s disease from other forms of dementia. FDG-PET scans of the brain, which measure glucose usage, have shown to be particularly effective for these, and other related purposes.
Due to the high costs of cyclotrons needed to produce the isotope products (radionuclides) necessary for PET scanning, as well as the chemical synthesis apparatus’ needed to produce the radiopharmaceuticals, the vast majority of hospitals and universities have come to rely on third party suppliers of radiotracers, such as those available from CNL Scientific Resources.