Is a Winning Combination
When it comes to high-tech imaging and tracking of cancer, nothing matches the amazing capabilities of today’s PET/CT machine. The technology combines positron emission tomography (PET) scanning with computed tomography (CT) scanning. PET uses small amounts of radiation to show how well various organs are functioning; CT provides detailed images of organs and tissues. The combined result is highly detailed 3-D images of the function and structure of various parts of the body.
The first PET/CT prototype was unveiled in 1998 at the University of Pittsburg, and it was first introduced into clinical use in 2001. PET/CT has emerged as one of the fastest growing modalities worldwide according to the Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology.
As radiologists, we use many types (modalities) of imaging technology to learn more about how the human body is working without having to resort to surgery. These include: X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans as well as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Regarding this last modality, the idea of using magnets to look at electrically charged particles inside the human body was once ridiculed as crazy. Today, MRI is used in thousands of locations around the world to help radiologists and other health care professionals better understand the human body.
On July 3, 1977, a machine built around a giant magnet took crude images of a test patient’s chest, including the heart and lungs. This marked the first-ever use of a machine to scan the body for signs of cancer. The machine, called Indomitable, was the first human scanner and earliest MRI technology.
Ultrasound Does a Great Job
The thyroid gland is an amazing, delicate and very important organ found in the neck, usually just below the Adam’s Apple. Wrapped around the trachea (windpipe), this butterfly-shaped gland secretes hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism and keep the brain, heart, muscles and other organs working properly.
As with other organs in our body, the thyroid sometimes develops unusual growths or doesn’t function normally. Abnormal growths called nodules, which sometimes develop on the thyroid, are actually quite common. They occur in about 15 to 70 percent of all adults, depending upon age, and more than 90 percent are non-cancerous. These nodules are often accidentally discovered when a patient is having an imaging exam such as a CT, PET or MRI, or by “palpation,” when a physician (or patient) actually feels them by touching the neck.