Describe positron emission tomography (PET) and explain how it can be useful in the study of brain functioning.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Brain Functioning
Technological advancements in healthcare have assisted healthcare professionals in detecting abnormalities in normal body functions. Through the power of imaging digital imaging techniques, this has been possible. Positron emission tomography (PET) is one of these new-age digital imaging techniques used to observe brain functionality and detect any abnormalities in them.
Description of the Positron Emission Tomography
The Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan works with the help of a specialized dye. As an imaging technique, a healthcare technician starts the procedure by seating a patient on a chair and administering a specially infused radioactive tracer into the patient’s bloodstream through an intravenous injection. The dye takes up to an hour to be fully absorbed into the patient’s system (Burke & Weill, 2013/2019). Once the dye is fully absorbed, the patient is laid on a table attached to a “toilet paper roll” device that conducts the PET scan. When the patient is laid flat on the table, the PET machine glides the table over for the head to be covered for proper imaging. The patient is advised to remain immobile throughout the scan until it is completed. Once this is done, the table where the patient lay glides back, and the patient can leave and pursue their routine activities with no effects of the dye or scan on their day (Burke & Weill, 2013/2019). The technician and specialized healthcare professionals interpret the captured scan test images and deliver the results to the patient.
Importance of PET to Brain Functioning
The Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan is an important digital imaging test that helps observe normal brain functioning against any abnormal functions of the brain. The specialized dye infused with radioactive tracers acts as a detector once in the bloodstream. The tracers cleave onto compounds in the bloodstream like glucose, which are essential for proper brain functionality (Burke & Weill, 2013/2019). Therefore, this helps observe how active areas of the brain will use up blood sugar while inactive areas do not. The essence of this observation is to detect any anomalies or abnormalities present in the brain. These abnormalities include diagnosing patients with different dementias, diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, amongst other conditions that may alter the brain’s normal functioning (Burke & Weill, 2013/2019). Also, PET is used to detect brain cancer while also observing how far cancer has spread (Burke & Weill, 2013/2019). The PET scan test is essential in observing normal brain functionality while offering diagnostic discussions over abnormalities that may affect the brain’s normal functioning.
In conclusion, while technological innovations are introduced and incorporated in current healthcare systems, some do more than help smoothen the workload in diagnosing diseases. The PET scan observes normal brain functioning while determining and diagnosing any brain abnormalities for easy diagnosis and treatment.
Burke, L., & Weill, B. (2019). Chapter 4: Information Technology in Radiology. In Information Technology for the Health Professions (5th ed., pp. 118–145). Pearson. (Original work published 2013)