Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

For a PET scan, you receive an injection of glucose (a form of sugar) that contains a radioactive atom. The amount of radioactivity used is very low. . Because cancers use glucose (sugar) at a higher rate than normal tissues, the radioactivity will tend to concentrate in the cancer. A special camera can then be used to create a picture of areas of radioactivity in the body. The picture is not finely detailed like a CT or MRI scan, but it can provide helpful information about your whole body.

A PET scan can help give the doctor a better idea of whether a thickening of the pleura or peritoneum seen on another imaging test is more likely cancer or merely scar tissue. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, your doctor may use this test to see if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. A PET scan can also be useful if your doctor thinks the cancer may have spread but doesn't know where. Some machines are able to perform both a PET and CT scan at the same time (PET/CT scan). This allows the doctor to compare areas of higher radioactivity on the PET scan with the more detailed appearance of that area on the CT.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Like CT scans, MRI scans provide detailed images of soft tissues in the body. But MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. The energy from the radio waves is absorbed and then released in a pattern formed by the type of body tissue and by certain diseases. A computer translates the pattern into very detailed images of parts of the body. A contrast material called gadolinium is often injected into a vein before the scan to better see details.

MRI scans can sometimes help find the exact location and extent of a tumor since they provide detailed images of soft tissues. For mesotheliomas, they may be useful in looking at the diaphragm (the thin band of muscle below the lungs that is responsible for breathing), a possible site of cancer spread.
MRI scans may be a little more uncomfortable than CT scans. They take longer -- often up to an hour. You may be placed inside a large cylindrical tube, which is confining and can upset people with a fear of enclosed spaces. Special, more open MRI machines can help with this if needed. The MRI machine makes buzzing and clicking noises that you may find disturbing. Some places will provide earplugs to help block this out.

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