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PET scan: Taming the Tracer!

PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography)

What Is PET scan?

The radiologic imaging technique that uses radionuclide dyes in the human body for the detection of disease, its nature and progress and depicts this in the form of three dimensional images is known as the positron emission tomography PET scan. Cancers of the brain, infarcts of the brain and heart and also the uptake of nutrients and drugs/medicines at the cellular level such as in the muscle, liver or the blood stream can be studied with the help of PET scans. Thus a PET scan is able to detect the changes in the metabolic activities at the cellular level contributing as a major aid in the field of molecular biology along with medical oncology and research areas. 

How Does A PET scan Work?

Radioactive nuclides often known as markers or tracers are used for the PET scans. They are either injected into the body of the subject, administered orally or inhaled by the patient depending upon the site for which the scan will be needed. The half life of the tracer is around 20 to 30 minutes after which it will be either absorbed or discarded from the body. Once the tracer reaches the desired site, it begins to concentrate there and starts emitting the radiation at low doses. The digital images are then taken of the organ or tissue in concern which appear well defined owing to the radiation emission. Thus, the uptake of oxygen, glucose and other nutrients can be studied very well with the help of such a scan. These activities are more or less increased or decreased in cases of tumors and infarcts and can hence be detected at any stage of the disease. Digital images can be obtained with the help of computers, x-rays, or clubbed with computed tomography CT, magnetic resonance imaging MRI or ultrasound USG imaging techniques depending upon how finely the area needs to be studied

Uses OF PET Scan:

  • PET scans find application in both the diagnostic as well as research fields
  • They are majorly used for the diagnosis of cancers/tumors, imaging of the brain where areas of dementias, tumors and infarcts need to examined
  • PET scans can also detect and help in analyzing the active metabolic activities being carried out in the human body; such as that of glucose uptake, glygogenolysis which can help determine the nature and cause of the diseases at the cellular level
  • It also helps in the understanding of the metastatic nature of the cancer; whether it has a tendency to spread to the adjacent structures or not
  • To check the flow of blood to the heart muscles, study the contractions and relaxations of the cardiac musculature
  • Areas of seizures, cells involved in Alzheimer’s disease, strokes or infarcts, memory loss or dementia, Parkinson’s disease can also be well studied with the help of the PET scans

Types Of PET Scans:

PET is classified on the basis of the type of radiotracer used for the emission of positrons in the human body. The tracers’ area s follows:

  • FDG fluorodeoxyglucose: This is the most commonly used tracer. It is an analogue of glucose. Helps in the early detection of the cancer cells since the glucose uptake capacity of the rapidly multiplying cancer cells is almost nil. Since the glucose activity in such cells is zero, the detection is done pretty fast
  • Fluorine-18: This is used for the detection of blood clots
  • Fluorodeoxysorbitol FDS: This tracer is used when bacterial infections are suspected such as bacterial meningitis
  • 11c-metomidate: For the detection of cancers of the adrenal cortex
  • Nitrogen-15 and oxygen-13: For the detection of impaired blood flow
  • Gallium-68: For the detection of neuroendocrine tumors
  • Fluorodopa: For the analysis of cardiac musculature

Before The PET Scan Instructions:

  • Keep your carbohydrate and sugar levels to normal a day before and on the day of the scan
  • 5-6 hours before the scan you will advised to stop eating and keep hungry
  • A nervous tissue relaxant may be given to you either orally or injected to relax your body an hour before the scanning starts
  • Valuables such as watches, ear pieces, neck pieces, nose rings or any other facial piercings should be removed a day prior to the scheduled scan
  • You will be a light gown to wear for the procedure so that clothes do not make you uneasy during the process

After The PET Scan Instructions:

  • Start eating normal food as soon as you reach home
  • Drink ample water and take adequate liquids so as to flush the dye out of the body
  • In case of any complications, visit the nearest doctor as soon as possible

Complications And Risk Factors Associated With PET Scan:

  • The cost for such an imaging technique is very high
  • Care needs to be taken in women especially if they are pregnant or breast feeding
  • It is totally contraindicated in cases of high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels
  • Patient may feel extremely anxious and apprehensive or claustrophobic due to the PET scan machine
  • If the dye used is that of iodine or iodine based, it may cause nausea, vomiting, or anaphylactic reactions

Am I Good Candidate For PET Scan?

You can be an ideal candidate for a PET scan if you have any of the following ailments:

  • Brain tumor that is likely to be metastatic
  • You suffer from partial memory loss, dementia
  • You have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
  • Cardiac or brain strokes, infarcts
  • Research where drug uptake needs to be studied in animals resembling human genetic makeup such as in rats, sheep or rabbits

Recovery Time:

  • The body will have a natural tendency to eliminate the dye within a span of two to maximum four hours
  • If you have been given conscious sedation to relax or calm you down, you may be required to stay for a minimum of six hours in the hospital till you fully are aware of the surroundings
  • Once the scan is over, you can go home and lead a life as normal as you can

Success Rate of PET scan :

PET scan imaging technique is successful is almost 95 percent human as well as animal subjects in both the diagnostic as well as the research field.

Benefits of PET scan :

  • It is painless and a non invasive procedure
  • Half life of the radiotracer is very less, does not cause any harm to the human body
  • Does not cause any swelling or allergy at the site of tracer administration
  • Helps to study the disease and its progress at the cellular level
  • The treatment can then be planned accordingly
  • It is an outpatient department procedure, no hospital stay will be required

Cost Comparisons For PET Scan:

The average cost of a single PET scan in India is around 10,000 to 15,000 INR. This amount is approximately 70 percent lesser than what you will be required to pay in the United States, United Kingdom or Australia/New Zealand

Why choose India?

Team MedcureIndia righteously represents the Indian nation where medical expertise is found in abundance. PET scan is an advanced medical diagnostic aid that has seen an extensive use in hospitals all over the country and is a routine practice and recommendation by the oncologists. It is in our hands to make the entire process too smooth and within the paying capacity of the clients. 

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