Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Definition - What does Positron Emission Tomography (PET) mean?

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a technology which uses nuclear imaging to view and measure physiological functions. During what is called a PET scan, a small amount of radioactive material is introduced into the subject's body. The imaging system of the PET device detects the radiation emitted from the material and translates the detected energy into images. Because PET scans can detect radioactive material through tissue layers, it is a valuable diagnostic tool for tracking abnormal blood flow patterns and physiological changes that occur at the cellular level.

WorkplaceTesting explains Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan begins with the introduction of a radioactive material, called a radiotracer, to the person being scanned. Depending on the body systems that the scan is intended to examine, this radioactive substance may be swallowed, inhaled as a gas, or injected into the bloodstream. Once introduced into the body, these radiotracers may accumulate in targeted organs or trace a path through the body's systems.

The PET scanning device can then create images which pinpoint where such accumulations occur and highlight blockages or other abnormalities in the body's moving systems. For example, a PET scan may be used to detect low blood flow to areas of the brain, track the effectiveness of the heart muscles, or the metabolism of glucose by a tumor.

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