NEW IMAGING TECHNIQUES COULD LEAD TO BETTER TREATMENTS

At the Society for Nuclear Medicine’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this week, researchers made several announcements of ways they are using new imaging techniques to better diagnose and treat certain diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and ovarian cancer.

Two imaging techniques, multidetector computed tomography (CT) and imaging positron emission tomography (PET) along with the use of N1177 (a contrast agent that highlights plaques), provides imaging to determine the amount of inflammation with atherosclerotic plaque and estimates the chances of plaque causing a future heart attack or stroke. Another new technique dealing with the heart is a molecular imaging technique that gives a three dimensional image of the heart.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Magnetic Resonance (MR) will hopefully give researchers insight into the pathologies and progression of such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, depression and schizophrenia. PET scans detect changes in the brain which have been shown to be the early changes of Alzheimers, long before dementia sets in. If doctors can detect it and begin treatment early, the patients would be less likely to develop Alzheimers.

The PET scan is also a helpful tool in the treatment of women with ovarian cancer. Replacing routine CT scans of the abdomen area and pelvis with PET/CT imaging could reduce costs and provide better care for patients.

By using these techniques, the hope is to both detect and treat diseases earlier.

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