Lawrence J, Rohren E, Provenzale J.
Functional imaging using positron emission tomography (PET) plays an important role in the diagnosis, staging, image-guided treatment planning and monitoring of malignant diseases. PET imaging complements conventional anatomical imaging such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The strength of CT scanning lies in its high spatial resolution, allowing for anatomical characterization of disease. PET imaging, however, moves beyond anatomy and characterizes tissue based on functions such as metabolic rate. Combined PET/CT scanners were introduced commercially in 2001 and a number of technological advancements have since occurred. Radiolabelled tracers such as (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and (18)F-fluorothymidine (FLT) allow visualization of various metabolic processes within cancer cells. Many studies in human oncology evaluating the utility of PET/CT have demonstrated clinical benefits. Few veterinary studies have been performed, but initial studies show promise for improved detection of malignancy, more thorough staging of canine cancer and determination of early response and disease recrudescence.