PET and CT Imaging Scanners: Distinct Disparities

Posted by Rachel Masey

Thu, Sep 5, 2013 @ 09:13 AM


While both the PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and the CT (Computed Tomography) imaging scanners identify abnormalities in organs of the body and have 3D imaging capabilities, they still reveal and compile very different information. Check out the differences between the PET and the CT imaging scanners:

PET ScannerA PET scanner captures images of bodily organs by using a camera and a liquid tracker - It shows molecular function and activity. For the process to work, a liquid tracker (usually known as a Tracer), is injected into a vein. That tracer then swarms to the cells within the body that are collecting the most energy (which is usually a sign of disease or cancer). The tracer then creates positrons. These positively charged particles are captured by the camera and data is collected. PET scans are capable of revealing many outcomes. They help doctors evaluate cancer, see if the disease has spread and determine what the best treatments are. They can detect damaged heart tissue and determine whether there is pour blood flow to the heart. PET systems also help doctors study the brain, the blood flow to the brain and any changes the brain has gone through. Even problems with the nervous system can be detected with a PET scan.

CT ScannerA CT scanneruses X-rays, which are generated through a computer, in order to form detailed pictures of a specific internal body part. The scanner sends X-rays through a particular part of the body that needs to be analyzed. While the scanner rotates, it is creating thinly sliced pictures of that specific body part. Sometimes, there can be difficulties in seeing certain sections of the body or some organs. If this obstacle occurs, an injectable dye can be used in order for the CT scanner to capture better pictures. CT scans aid in locating tumors, kidney stones, lung cancer, appendicitis and aneurysms. They help determine where liver, heart, pelvis and pancreas problems stem from and if a CT is used as a tool during a procedure, it helps direct instruments that have been inserted into the body so that the correct location is reached!

Images from a PET are gathered by a radioactive tracker that creates positrons which locates organs that have problems. Whereas, images from a CT are captured using a computer generated x-ray which identifies organs of the body that are normal and abnormal. So if you need to check the function of a certain organ, find out if cancer has spread, or check your blood flow to your brain, you would want to be scanned by a PET system. However, the CT scanner can find tumors in your abdomen, pancreas and liver, as well as, locate kidney stones and find problems with the lungs, heart and esophagus. Both systems are unique and have remarkable capabilities…and we only named a few!

**Have questions about a specific imaging camera? CLICK HERE**