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    Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

    Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine technique that provides images of metabolic processes in the body. Most commonly, PET is performed using a radioactive form of glucose (a simple sugar) to create images of glucose metabolism. PET scans are extremely sensitive to the alterations in glucose metabolism that can result from pathologic conditions such as cancer (increased glucose metabolism) or Alzheimer’s disease (decreased glucose metabolism). In a combined PET/CT scan, a PET scan is obtained immediately after a CT scan (computed tomography). The CT scan provides excellent anatomic detail, which when viewed superimposed on the images from the PET scan, allows precise identification of sites of abnormal metabolism. A typical PET/ CT scan extends from the “eyes to the thighs,” with a patient spending approximately 30 minutes in the PET/CT scanner.


    PET/CT scans can be used to better determine the likelihood that an abnormal finding is malignant and to guide a biopsy or surgery. PET/CT scans can also be used for staging of malignancies, identifying the possibly multiple sites of involvement with greater accuracy than a CT scan alone. Furthermore, post-treatment PET/CT scans can more accurately evaluate response to therapy, allowing a patient’s treating oncologist, radiation oncologist or surgeon to consider changes in therapy earlier in the course of treatment. Lastly, PET/CT scans can more accurately identify sites of recurrent disease in patients with a history of prior cancer and suspicion of tumor recurrence.

    Research has shown that PET/CT scans not only improve patient care through more accurate staging, evaluation of response to therapy and identifying disease recurrence, but they also lower health care costs by reducing unnecessary biopsies, surgeries and additional imaging studies.

    Heart Disease
    PET of the heart (cardiac PET) is the more accurate than other types of non-invasive stress tests in determining the presence and extent of coronary artery disease. Moreover, cardiac PET is the most accurate methods of determining if heart muscle remains viable (living and functional) after a myocardial infarction (heart attack). This helps determine which patients would most likely benefit from procedures such as transplant, coronary bypass or angioplasty.

    PET/CT of the brain can be used to assess patients with seizure disorders and provides the earliest diagnosis of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

    Our board-certified radiologists at Mills-Peninsula Health Services (MPHS)are experts at interpreting PET/CT images and work closely with your treating physicians to guide therapy and follow-up.

    At MPHS, we provide access to clinical images and reports using PACS (Picture Archive and Communication System). By having all your imaging procedures done at MPHS, our radiologists will have instant access to your clinical history. This is a service independent clinics are unable to provide.

    Mills-Peninsula offers PET/CT services at our Mills-Peninsula Medical Center - San Mateo Campus campus in San Mateo (complimentary self or valet parking). Our scheduling staff will be pleased to assist you with the pre-authorization process required by your insurance provider.

    Key Features:

    • Fused-imaging; short exam time with improved image quality
    • Neurology
    • Cardiology
    • Orthopedics
    • Vascular
    • Lung screening