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Imaging modalities and expertise: PET (Positron Emission Tomography)

Banner researchers and clinicians use advanced PET methods to peer inside the head and study the inner workings of the brain. PET differs from an MRI or a CT as it captures the metabolic processes of the brain rather than just the anatomy or structure.

PET helps diagnose and assess degenerative brain diseases, dementias, movement disorders and cancers. PET also:

  • Detects and measures the buildup of amyloid plaques – a change in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease – decades before memory and thinking problems begin

  • Reveals changes in the dopaminergic systems to differentiate Parkinson’s disease from other movement disorders

  • Pinpoints the source of epileptic seizures and then assists in the surgical planning for those patients with uncontrollable seizures

  • Evaluates brain tumors and determines whether they are benign or malignant

Putting PET to work for Alzheimer’s research and treatment

Banner Alzheimer’s researchers have earned an international reputation for their visionary use of FDG PET (fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography) as a technique that shows reduced glucose utilization in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Our researchers have empowered FDG PET in both the scientific and clinical settings by developing imaging software that:

  • Detects Alzheimer’s disease early and then tracks its progress

  • Gauges genetic and non-genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s

  • Evaluates promising Alzheimer’s treatments

Alzheimer’s researchers have focused on amyloid plaques that accumulate in the brain as a likely sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

How can this information help physicians treating people with Alzheimer’s? Our team has helped improve amyloid PET techniques that arm clinicians with evidence they need to more effectively treat people with Alzheimer’s.

Banner Alzheimer’s researchers have also pushed PET techniques further. Our team has demonstrated that accumulating amyloid plaques in cognitively normal people increases their genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. This important discovery has set the stage for PET technology in Alzheimer’s prevention trials.

Learn more:

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