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Using PET Scans to Discover the Nuances of Brain Injury

Using PET Scans to Discover the Nuances of Brain Injury

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So, the PET scan looks at—the way we currently use it— looks at the metabolism of the brain. We inject the radiotracer glucose, and the glucose is utilized in the brain, and areas of the brain that use more glucose light up stronger, and areas that use less glucose do not light up as strong. So, we can see areas of the brain that are potentially damaged and not utilizing glucose as much as they should be. There are other radiotracers that look at more specific things like protein depositions say something like being an amyloid where we can also inject tracers that go to those areas that would definitely show areas of damage or beta amyloid deposition. The same thing with a protein called tau protein, which has been shown to be deposited in brains of NFL players that have undergone several concussions. So, there are a variety of ways to use the PET instrument to image the brain in various ways.

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Neuroradiologist Gerard Riedy talks about the variety of ways the PET scan can be used to image the injuries to a brain — from injecting glucose to study metabolism to using radio tracers to look at various proteins.

See more videos with Dr. Riedy.


Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Brian King, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.

Gerard Riedy, MD, PhDGerard Riedy, MD, PhD, a neuroradiologist with a background in biochemistry and imaging research, serves as the chief of neuroimaging for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence.

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