Services provided by Imaging Consultants, Inc.
Mercy Medical Center’s Diagnostic Imaging department has expanded its arsenal of diagnostic testing with the only full-time, fixed-unit, PET-CT imaging service in Western Massachusetts. PET-CT is the latest technological advancement in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and neurological disease. This new technology means earlier, more precise diagnoses which result in timely therapy, less exploratory surgery and better prognoses for treatment and recovery. In fact, studies indicate that PET testing can influence pre-surgical planning in up to 50% of all cancer cases.
PET-CT combines two separate imaging tools, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerized Tomography (CT), to collect both anatomical and biological information during a single exam. The test provides physicians with access to the most complete and accurate information on disease location and metabolism, while providing patients with a better chance of a positive outcome and the ability to avoid unnecessary procedures.
On the PET image, the physician sees how the body is functioning. On the CT image, the physician sees the body’s anatomic structure. When combined into a PET-CT image, the patient’s complete picture is revealed. The PET-CT exam is painless and safe, and is generally conducted in less than thirty minutes.
In Oncology, PET is the only modality that can accurately image many organs of the body with a single pass to allow determination of malignancy. It can also provide information to determine whether a primary cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. PET allows physicians to view biochemical function through non-invasive imaging which improves diagnostic precision when used with CAT Scan and MRI.
Before having a scan, patients receive a dose of a “tracer,” which mimics substances found naturally in the body like water, sugars and proteins. These tracers accumulate in diseased cells, and are detected by the PET-CT system during the scan. An image of the patient is then created, highlighting any abnormal physiology. This image helps physicians determine if any disease is present, the location and extent of the disease, and track how quickly the disease is spreading.
PET-CT applications for Oncology will augment early tumor detection and characterization, help accurately guide lesion biopsies, enhance treatment staging and restaging, and improve radiation therapy targeting. In addition, this tool will allow us to better monitor response to treatment and provides surveillance imaging to detect early recurrences.
In neurological applications, PET-CT can be used to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease from fronto-temporal dementia when clinical findings are indeterminate. PET-CT is also one of the most accurate methods available to localize areas of the brain causing epileptic seizures and to determine if surgery is a treatment option.