Thursday, September 8, 2011

Isotopes and PET scans

Isotopes are used in many scientific fields to observe the way another element interacts with them or even just on their own as this can provide valuable information about the setting in which they are moving through. Isotopes are used in many different scientific fields for things such as pest and crop irradiation, archaeological dating and tracing and imaging in the medical field. The article I read discusses the different isotopes used in and the process of positron emission tomography scan, or a PET scan. The article lists several isotopes commonly used in PET scans which are 11C, 13N, 150, and 18F. These tracers are injected into a person’s bloodstream before the scan and the tracer releases gamma rays which are detected by the scanner. These scans help doctors check the regularity of important processes in the body such as blood volume, oxygen usage and glucose metabolism. Basically, these tracers help detect irregularities within the body by following these atoms around. Tumors can also be detected and analyzed using organ specific tracers like radiolabeled glucose. The article gives the example that the doctor can then see how quickly the tumor metabolizes the glucose and understand the severity of the situation. Isotopes are relevant in many scientific fields as I mentioned, but I was most interested in their uses in medicine and I am sure in the future different isotopes will be used in more ways to diagnose and even treat patients.

The article can be found here: http://www.mayfieldclinic.com/PE-PET.htm
An example of how tracers in a PET scan can identify certain organs
Picture URL: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=PET+scan&view=detail&id=5E1BC913818682EECDB8BAD6D7C9AD0FE357AB48&first=0&FORM=IDFRIR

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