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PET-CT

PET / CT (abbreviation for Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography) is currently the most advanced imaging technique in cancer and dementia diagnostics. The combination of PET and CT in one device allows the detection of tumours, inflammations or neurological disorders earlier and more accurately than it was possible with previous methods.

In PET scanning, patients receive a small amount of a radioactive substance, usually fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), which is a slightly altered glucose molecule. This substance accumulates in the organism in regions of intense metabolic activity. The increased glucose consumption by tumour compared to normal cells, is lead to an increased uptake of FDG. The pathological cells are then visible as bright dots on the PET images.

At the same time, the computed tomography shows a 3 dimensional reconstruction of the anatomy of the body.

Afterwards the PET and CT images are merged together in the device. This enables the examiner to discover even the smallest tumours very early. It can also be determined whether the tumours are benign or malignant.

Picture: PET/CT of an esophageal carcinoma (esophageal cancer): the CT scan is presented on the left, the PET-image is shown on the right. The merged PT/CT image is located in the middle. The bright dot to the left is the original tumour, the smaller dot to the right a metastasis in a lymph node.

Picture: PET/CT of an esophageal carcinoma (esophageal cancer): the CT scan is presented on the left, the PET-image is shown on the right. The merged PT/CT image is located in the middle. The bright dot to the left is the original tumour, the smaller dot to the right a metastasis in a lymph node.

The early diagnosis allows the treating physician to choose the best treatment for the patient: whether surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of different treatment options. A PET/CT follow-up scan can show whether/if the patient responds to treatment.

Moreover, the PET/CT scan is currently the most sensitive method to detect numerous brain diseases. It is possible to detect dementia before other methods show abnormalities. Early diagnosis is important in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, because only timely treatment can slow down the progression of the disease. The device is also able to recognize other brain disorders such as Parkinson, even if the patient has very few symptoms.

The PET/CT method is mainly used for diagnosing the following types of tumours:

– lung cancer (bronchial carcinoma), pulmonary nodule
– colorectal cancer (colorectal carcinoma)
– breast cancer
– prostate cancer (carcinoma of the prostate)
– black skin cancer (malignant melanoma)
– malignant lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
– esophageal cancer (carcinoma of esophagus)
– thyroid (carcinoma of the thyroid gland)
– pancreatic cancer (
– neuroendocrine tumours (e.g. carcinoid)
– ovarian cancer (ovarian carcinoma)
– head and neck cancer
– bone and soft tissue tumours
– testicular cancer
– cerebral tumours
– examination of metastases when primary tumour is unknown (CUP syndrome)

The PET/CT method is also used for:

– search for an inflammatory focus (fever of unknown origin)
– early detection of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease
– distinction of different forms of dementia
– diagnosis of movement disorders
– epilepsy

Download “Patient Information PET/CET” (PDF)