Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Advantages and Disadvantages of a PET CT Scan by Kathryn Dawson

A PET CT scan is a very important part of modern medicine. It is actually two medical imaging scans packaged up together for the purpose of creating a more in depth picture of the human body. The PET scan involves exposing the body to radioactive material that results in gamma rays being emitted from the part of the body being investigated. These energy rays can be detected and analysed and from this a clear picture can be gleaned of the condition of the organs, cells and tissue in that particular area. This unique function makes a PET scan extremely valuable in measuring and detecting cancerous growths and tumors in the body.

When combined with a CT scan, the end result is extremely detailed. A CT scan uses X-rays to provide a picture of the inside of the body. This makes locating tumors and abnormalities in the body much easier. By combining the two images (the PET scan and CT scan) a doctor receives an even fuller and more complete picture than when using just one or the other independently of each other. This ensures more accurate diagnoses can be made and more effective treatment given.

There are a number of benefits of a PET CT scan. First and foremost the information that is produced in this way is completely unique, and would be out of reach otherwise. There is no other scan or combination of scans that can provide as detailed and full a picture as that of a PET CT scan. Using imaging software and scans in this way is a much cheaper alternative than carrying out surgery to look into the body. Sometimes an investigative surgery will be unavoidable, but this is usually a last resort as it is more time consuming, more expensive and a great deal more difficult for the patient who may takes days or even weeks to recover. A PET CT scan can be carried out on an outpatient basis so it provides the minimum inconvenience to the patient.

PET scanning in particular, regardless of whether or not it is combined with a CT scan, provides intricate details of the body on a cellular level. This allows a disease or illness to be detected very early on, more so than other modalities are able to provide. When combined however, a PET scan and CT scan are extremely accurate. They can be performed at the same time, the patient does not even have to change positions which means there is very little room for error. This also makes it one of the most convenient medical imaging methods available. Software developed for reading data from a PET-CT allows for the metabolic (PET) and Anatomical (CT) data to be aligned one on top of the other giving the radiologists the most complete information possible.

As for disadvantages, well there aren't really any. Yes the patient is exposed to radioactive material, but this is such a small amount that it has no long term side effects. Nuclear medicine has been in existence for at least 50 years, and during that time there have been few serious problems arise from this type of treatment. Women who are pregnant may be unsuitable for a PET CT scan, but otherwise it is an extremely safe and effective procedure.

All medical imaging software is valuable to doctors and healthcare professionals, but none more so than that developed for reading a combined PET CT scan. The PET scan can provide detailed information about any abnormal cells - in this respect it can detect abnormal cells, the speed at which they are developing and how much they have spread. A CT scan provides a detailed image of the body which provides a map and directions to the location of the cells. Working as a double team allows doctors to make better treatment plans and provide the most appropriate care for their patients. It is particularly effective as one of the tools used in providing oncology solutions and is also useful in a multitude of medical disciplines.