Brain PET scan

What is a Brain PET Scan?

A Pet Scan, or PET scan, is a specialized type of imaging test that provides detailed images of the body's functioning organs and tissues. It stands for Positron Emission Tomography, which makes use of radioactive material to provide images of the body's metabolic activity. A brain PET scan specifically looks at the activity of the brain. It can help diagnose brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke. It can also identify brain tumors or diseases that might affect brain function.

Preparing for a Brain PET Scan

Your doctor will discuss the specific preparation guidelines and instructions with you prior to your scan. Generally, it is recommended that you:

  • Never eat or drink anything for six to eight hours prior to the scan.
  • Ask someone to accompany you to the examination.
  • You may be required to drink a glucose-containing solution as part of the preparation.
  • Tell your doctor about all the medicines and drugs you take, including vitamins and herbal supplements.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any allergies.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any chronic illnesses.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

Procedure of a Brain PET Scan

During a brain PET scan, you will be asked to lie on a bed as the scanner passes over your body. An IV will be started to deliver the radioactive tracer that has been injected into your body. The tracer will travel through your bloodstream and collect in the tissues and organs that need to be studied. The scanner will detect the radioactivity and generate images of the affected areas.

Types of Brain PET Scans

There are different types of brain PET scans, depending on the type of radioactive tracer used in the scan:

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET scan: This allergy-like tracer is used to study metabolic processes in the body.
  • Amino acid PET scan: This tracer is used to study the transport of different substances and the functioning of brain tissues.
  • Glucose metabolism PET scan: This tracer is used to study brain function and diagnose malfunctioning tissues.
  • Metabolism PET scan: This tracer is used to study the metabolism of the brain.

Risks of a Brain PET Scan

Brain PET scans are very safe and have minimal side effects. The radioactive material used in the scan is quickly removed from the body, so it poses a minimal risk. The most common side effect is minor nausea or tiredness. There is also a small risk of allergic reaction to the tracer.

Why a Brain PET Scan Is Performed

A brain PET scan is a useful tool for diagnosing and treating numerous neurological disorders, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Brain tumors
  • Seizure disorders
  • Parkinson’s disease

When Is a Brain PET Scan Performed?

Your doctor may order a brain PET scan if you are experiencing certain neurological symptoms. It can provide additional information that other imaging tests like an MRI or CT may not be able to provide. A brain PET scan can help to diagnose specific diseases or disorders, as well as provide information about the progression of a disease. It can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.