Nuclear Radiology

Nuclear PET Scan

One of the most effective diagnostic tools is called the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan.

“The PET scan is by far one of the most effective tools we have to help diagnose and complement treatment for cancer patients,” said Michael Middleton, M.D., director of the Division of Nuclear Radiology. “This test is vital to diagnosing and staging cancer because it scans the entire body and allows us to see the molecular make-up of tumors, not just the size. We are using it in conjunction with CT (computed tomography) to give us an even closer look at specific areas of the body.

Scott & White has made a commitment recently to purchase, install and utilize a state-of-the-art PET/CT system in the very near future that will further enhance our abilities to detect and treat cancer.”

Radioactive sugar (glucose) tracers are injected into the patient, and the PET scanner measures the metabolic and physiological activities of the tumor. Most tumors have high metabolic rates and absorb the tracer more than the surrounding tissue does. A scanner then records the photons emitted by the tracers as they travel throughout the patient’s body and a computer reassembles the signals into actual pictures for the physician to review.

PET scans can locate tumors, determine if they are likely benign or malignant and detect if cancer has spread. Following chemotherapy or radiation, the PET scan also shows the physicians if the treatment has been successful and is one of the most effective tests at detecting recurrences of cancer.

Widely used for detecting lung cancer, lymphoma, breast cancer and other cancers, PET scans also are used in different areas throughout Scott & White, such as cardiology and neurology.

“Almost 95 percent of the PET imaging we do is for oncology,” Dr. Middleton said. “We can use it to detect a wide variety of tumor types in the initial stages and re-staging of cancers. But other types of PET scans are also extremely successful in diagnosing coronary artery disease, and we hope one day soon to use the test for detecting Alzheimer’s disease. As the first medical center in Central Texas to have dedicated PET services, we hope to be the first to enhance this technology even further and improve the future of healthcare for our patients.”

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