PET/CT – A 2-IN-1 TEST TO DIAGNOSE COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT

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People who are experiencing cognitive challenges or have immediate relatives with Alzheimer’s disease naturally have concerns about whether their present symptoms are – or future experiences will be – impacted by this disease, or if their symptoms are due to other causes.

The problem in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is that many other diseases produce symptoms that mimic it. Because there has been no definitive test to rule out the presence of Alzheimer’s, more than 20% of cases have been misdiagnosed, meaning as many as one in five patients presenting with cognitive problems have been told they have Alzheimer’s when they don’t. This is a potentially serious problem because many diseases the produce symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s can be arrested or delayed, so an accurate diagnosis is key to treatment. Luckily, there is a test that can rule out Alzheimer’s disease when it is not in fact the cause of cognitive decline, a two-in-one scan called PET/CT.

The Board Certified radiologists and experienced technicians of RAO are expertly trained in PET/CT, which combines positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) imaging into a single scan, for a more complete cultivation of information and superior analysis by your doctor and RAO radiologist of whatever conditions may be present.

This revolutionary diagnostic imaging system combines PET, which utilizes a low-level radiopharmaceutical to visualize specific actions within the body, and CT, which uses x-rays to capture cross-sectional images of the body. By getting both functional and anatomical information in a single scan, your doctor and RAO radiologist receive a more complete diagnostic picture, and because both scans are delivered simultaneously, it saves considerable time and inconvenience. The scan itself takes about 90 minutes, though the appointment time is typically about 2.5 hours to allow for the injection and circulation of what is called a radiopharmaceutical tracer.

The injected radioactive tracer is able to locate the presence of a specific plaque in the brain called β-amyloid. If the scan discovers there is no β-amyloid plaque present in the brain, Alzheimer’s disease can be effectively eliminated as the cause of symptoms, leading to investigations into other possible causes.

The presence of plaque in the brain doesn’t necessarily mean a person has Alzheimer’s, but it can offer your doctor more detailed information so that he or she can make a more educated diagnosis. If your doctor determines that Alzheimer’s is the probable cause of cognitive decline, there are treatments available that may help address its symptoms.

RAO offers the Siemen’s biograph PET/CT, one of the most advanced systems ever created, at our Medical Imaging Center at Windsor Oaks.