PET scan stands for Positron Emission Tomography, an imaging exam that is designed to help reveal the way that the tissues and the organs are functioning. This is a medical diagnostic exam that requires the use of a small amount of radioactive material in order for this activity to be apparent. The type of radioactive materials and the specific delivery method of the material will depend on what tissue or organ the physician wants to examine using the scan.
PET scans are preferable to other types of scans such as MRI and CT scanning. This is because the scan will show how the tissues and organs are working rather than simply showing the structures of those organs and tissues. The most common situations where physicians may recommend a PET scan include: scans of the brain, the breasts, the heart and the lungs, though these are not the only areas where a PET scan may be recommended.
The PET scan can easily reveal the shape, size, position and function of a number of vital organs within the body. This test allows physicians to check on function of the brain, to diagnose brain disorders and cancers, to diagnose heart problems, to see how far a cancer has spread or to indicate areas of the body where the heart is not creating enough blood flow. Physicians may take PET scans over time in order to see how the body is responding to a treatment option when an illness such as cancer is present.