[MOL] Pet Scan Informational.....June! [00414] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Pet Scan Informational.....June!

Benefits of PET

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) provides physicians with information about the body's chemistry not available through any other procedure. Unlike CT or MRI, which look at anatomy or body form, PET studies metabolic activity or body function. PET has been used primarily in cardiology, neurology, and oncology. In particular, it has been used to assess the benefit of coronary artery bypass surgery, identify causes of childhood seizures and adult dementia, and detect and grade tumors.

In PET the patient receives a short half-lived radiopharmaceutical (produced by a cyclotron or a generator). Because the radioisotope used in a PET scan is short-lived, the amount of radiation exposure the patient receives is about the same as from two chest X-rays. The radiopharmaceuticals discharge positrons from wherever they are used in the body. As the positrons encounter electrons within the body, a reaction producing gamma rays occurs.

The patient lies on a table that slides into the middle of the scanner. Within the scanner are rings of detectors containing special crystals that produce light when struck by a gamma ray. The scanner's electronics record these detected gamma rays and map an image of the area where the radiopharmaceutical is located. Since the radiopharmaceutical contains a chemical commonly used by the body, PET enables the physician to see the location of the metabolic process. For example, glucose (or sugar, which the body uses to produces energy) combined with a radioisotope will show where glucose is being used in the brain, the heart muscle, or a growing tumor.

More information on PET

You can go to our links page or use these external resources.

  • UCLA's Brochure Positron Emission Tomography (PET) - The Power of Molecular Imaging
  • UCLA's Let's Play PET on-line tutorial, which provides a detailed explanation of the physical and medical basis of Positron Emission Tomography
  • Institute for Clinical PET
  • Society of Nuclear Medicine

    PET Cost-Effectiveness
      Recent studies coordinated by the Institute for Clinical PET (ICP) have shown that, despite the
      relatively high cost of the equipment, PET can be quite cost-effective for a number of indications.
      Four retrospective studies have been completed on lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer
      recurrence and myocardial viability.

      These documents are available fully formatted for viewing online. If your browser cannot display
      Portable Document Format (pdf) files, you will need Adobe Acrobat, available free for Macs, PCs, and
      Sun workstations.

      You may view the ICP cost-effectiveness documents for:

      For more information, send e-mail to:
        PET Impact on Non-Medicare Costs

        Summary for the U.S. Non-Medicare Population for Indications from Recent
        Multi-center Studies

          The use of PET in just the four indications described in the ICP cost-effectiveness studies for the
          U.S. Non-Medicare population would result in a total gross savings (excluding the cost of providing PET) of:

          • Total U.S. Non-Medicare Savings: $4.5 billion per year

          The number of invasive procedures and other diagnostic procedures which would be eliminated are:

          • Procedures Eliminated: 182,520 per year

          The number of PET studies per year required for the five indications described would be:

          • Total PET Studies per Year: 401,616 studies

          At a projected average cost of $1000 per PET study, the total net savings for the four indications detailed
          would be:

          • Total Projected Net Cost Savings: $4.1 billion per year

          At the current average proposed PET Medicare reimbursement rate of $1790 per PET
          study, the total net savings would be:

          • Total Current Net Cost Savings: $3.8 billion per year

          Note that this information is only for the indications described in the initial cost-effectiveness
          PET studies. Additional significant savings are likely as additional cost-effective indications
          are developed. In addition, these cost savings do not include the additional cost savings due
          to complications inherent in invasive procedures. Further, no quantifiable benefit is included for
          the increased mortality and morbidity associated with invasive procedures.


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