Holy Name Medical Center was the first hospital in New Jersey to offer PET/CT services, now considered a standard imaging method. It is performed with special equipment that combines two types of imaging, positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT), to help physicians treat cancer cells more precisely and determine mid-course whether a treatment is working. Combining these methods provides more accurate diagnoses than the two scans performed separately.
With PET/CT, physicians can determine exactly where the cancer cells are within an organ, which enables them to target the largest amount of radiation directly at cancer cells while minimizing the risk to healthy tissue. This imaging can also be used to help detect a number of cancers, including brain, breast, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, gastric, head and neck, lung, lymphoma, melanoma, ovarian, pancreatic, and renal. It can also eliminate the need for some biopsies and surgeries.
- PET uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers, a camera and computer to evaluate the biochemical processes in an organ – blood flow, oxygen use and glucose metabolism – at the cellular level, which may help detect the onset of disease before it shows up on other types of imaging tests.
- CT imaging uses special X-ray equipment to produce multiple images of the anatomical structure of an organ, helping to detect abnormalities.
- PET brain imaging can show functional abnormalities of the brain undetected in other types of imaging. It also helps:
- Determine during cancer diagnosis if the tumor is malignant or benign and the degree of malignancy; provide guidance for biopsies, and assess prognosis.
- After treatment to assess tumor persistence, monitor the response to therapy and differentiate recurrence from damage due to disease or treatment.
- Differentiate between Alzheimer's disease, depression and dementia compared to other neurological disorders.
- Assess whether muscle tremors are associated with Parkinson's disease or other movement disorders.
- Neurosurgeons map areas in the brain responsible for movement, speech and other functions.