Positron emission tomography or PET scans contribute to the diagnostic process for conditions such as cancer, heart disease, seizures, memory loss and nervous system disorders, according to RadiologyInfo. PET scans are valuable for evaluating early stages of diseases because they detect changes in physiological activity at the molecular level.
PET scans allow doctors to locate cancerous growths, track the spread of tumors and evaluate how well a patient's body is responding to cancer treatment, RadiologyInfo states. In cardiac applications, scans detect subtle interruptions or blockages impairing blood flow to the heart muscle, helping physicians choose the best procedures to repair cardiac damage. Scans are also useful for pinpointing the cause of a heart attack. In neurological fields, doctors perform brain scans to locate tumors and study nervous system disorders. When patients show signs of brain impairment, PET scans are a valuable method of finding the sources of damage to determine the causes of seizures and memory disorders.
Radiologists use PET scans to find organs and cell tissues that aren't functioning properly by monitoring important body functions, such as glucose metabolism and blood circulation, Cleveland Clinic notes. PET scanning is often performed alongside computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scans, because the latter techniques are more effective at capturing structural or anatomical abnormalities in organs as diseases progress.