Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is one of the most advanced forms of imaging technology available to view the human body. Mary Greeley Medical Center is one of a few hospitals in Iowa to offer this method. 

PET is a powerful diagnostic tool that often gives answers no other imaging test can provide. One major advantage is that it is very adept at finding tumors. With PET, physicians can view abnormal tissues throughout the entire body, which is especially useful to locate suspected tumors and tumors that may have spread. New uses are being discovered every day, such as using PET to diagnose heart disease and brain illnesses.

Similar to a nuclear medicine scan, this non-invasive procedure uses a radioactive tracer to produce images. PET detects biochemical changes after a radioactive glucose compound is injected into the body. As the body metabolizes the glucose, the PET scan uses the particles emitted by the tracers to produce images. A tumor, for example, would absorb the tracer and show as a dark spot.

The most common uses for PET are in the areas of:


A PET scan provides vital information that can alter the course of treatment and can sometimes help in avoiding unwarranted surgery. PET shows if a tumor is cancerous, the extent of the cancer, whether it has spread to other organs, whether it has recurred or what types of therapy would be effective.

Heart Disease

PET provides the highest accuracy level of any non-invasive procedure for measuring blood flow and the extent of heart muscle damage. It is also the most definitive test to determine the value and potential risks of heart surgery for a particular patient. More information on Heart Services


A PET scan can locate the areas of the brain causing epileptic seizures and determine if surgery is an option.


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