PET brain scan

PET brain scan

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Credit: BSIP, RAGUET/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: PET brain scan. Doctors examining the results of a patient's positron emission tomography (PET) brain scan (lower right). The patient is lying on the bed of the scanner (centre). A PET scan is a technique used to detect areas of abnormal activity in the body. Usually, radioactive glucose is injected into the bloodstream. The PET scanner detects the presence of the radioactive glucose in body tissues, building up a picture of glucose concentration and thus, metabolic activity. This is useful in detecting tumours, as cancerous tissues have a high metabolic activity and use more glucose than healthy tissue. As a result, they appear brighter on the scans.

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