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Definition

Positron emission tomography (PET)

Positron emission tomography (PET) is an imaging modality for detecting positron-emitting radionuclides.

A positron is an anti-electron, which is a positively charged particle of antimatter. Positrons are emitted from the decay of proton-rich radionuclides. Most of these radionuclides are made in a cyclotron and have extremely short half-lives.

The most commonly used PET radionuclide is fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) labeled with fluorine-18 (a positron emitter). Tissues that are actively metabolizing glucose take up this compound, and the resulting localized high concentration of this molecule compared to background emission is detected as a "hot spot."

PET has become an important imaging modality in the detection of cancer and the assessment of its treatment and recurrence.

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