Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanner

Patients who come to St. Dominic’s with illnesses such as cancer, epileptic seizures and coronary artery disease now have available to them a new noninvasive option which can provide a more accurate diagnosis with less need for invasive biopsies.

The new Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner provides doctors with unique diagnostic information which may alter patient management and reduce total cost of patient care.

The PET scans are pictures of the actual biological functioning of the human body. Other imaging techniques, like Computerized Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), are limited to showing the structures of the body. Because PET scans are pictures of the body’s chemistry, many diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease, can be seen with PET.

St. Dominic’s new PET is one of the latest generations of scanners – offering CT technology along with the PET technology.

PET/CT is of particular benefit to patients who may have cancer, providing information which can be obtained in no other way. The PET/CT system combines the functional information that can be gained with positron emission tomography with the anatomical information gained from the CT scan, showing exactly where activity is located. It provides physicians a noninvasive method to look for cancer in the body, precisely pinpointing where it is, and in some cases, monitoring patients response to treatment.

Combining these two technologies into a single unit gives clinicians a powerful tool for assessing a variety of disease. In the case of cancer, the PET images can find very small cancers, but it may be hard to tell precisely where they are located because PET displays little anatomy. By fusing the PET images with the anatomic images of the CT, the location can be more precisely determined.

The benefits to patients are tremendous – earlier diagnosis, accurate staging and localization, precise treatment and patient monitoring. With the state-of-the-art imaging that the scanner provides, patients get a better chance at a good outcome and avoid unnecessary procedures. A PET/CT image may also provide early detection of the recurrence of cancer.