For many years, there was the computed tomography (CT) scan – pronounced as “cat” – and then later the positron emission tomography (PET) scan emerged. Both have been considered industry standards for years. In recent years, however, a single machine that combines a CT scanner and PET has been used with increasing frequency. Today, the machine that combines CT scanner and PET technologies provides the most advanced approach to imaging technology in the diagnosis and treatment of an array of diseases. Cancer is the leading disease that PET/CT scanning targets through its images. An integrated PET/CT machine has the ability to provide a whole – body scan and produce high – resolution images. The integrated PET/CT system has the ability to produce images of abnormal activity at the cellular level, as well as target the specific location of that abnormal activity.
This ability totally redefines the term “early detection,” of course. Other imaging systems such as MRI, x-ray and ultrasound depend on there being some macro – level change occurring within the body, but PET/CT virtually has eliminated the concept of exploratory surgery. It provides full – body imaging, or can be directed to a single area of the body. In either case, PET/CT produces a three – dimensional image that assists in diagnosing either primary or secondary disease with pinpoint accuracy.
There are several advantages to PET/CT disease diagnosis other than the obvious benefit of detection that now is much earlier than it ever could be prior to the widespread use of PET/CT imaging technology. In the face of continually rising costs, PET/CT has the ability to replace multiple medical procedures and assessments with a single PET/CT scan. PET/CT allows the diagnostician to evaluate all organ systems at one time, which is of particular value in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In cancer cases, PET/CT also provides information on internal changes, yielding insight into how an individual patient is responding to cancer treatments much earlier than other types of imaging systems can provide informative results. It also identifies optimal locations for testing with biopsy.