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Clinical Updates


PET/CT technology used to diagnose cancer and dementia


PET-CT imaging technology allows specialists to provide diagnostic services for the evaluation of cancer and dementia at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica (SM-UCLA&OH). The procedure can provide staging information in cancer patients, or can be conducted to evaluate dementia or therapy-refractory seizure disorder.

 Positron emission tomography (PET) images provide information on tissue metabolism important in the assessment of most cancers and brain disorders. Computed tomography (CT) shows structural details and allows precise anatomical localization of abnormal metabolic processes identified by PET.

The state-of-the-art PET/CT technology offered at Santa Monica-UCLA provides the best functional and structural view of the human body, enabling physicians to better locate, diagnose and stage diseases, usually with same-day reporting.

The program is a joint venture of the Division of Nuclear Medicine and the Department of Radiology at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

Outpatient procedure

The diagnostic procedure involves injecting a small amount of radioactive glucose into the patient’s bloodstream. The radiation exposure associated with PET is less than that associated with a conventional CT scan.

After the injection, the patient rests comfortably during an uptake period of approximately one hour during which the injected tracer distributes throughout the body. The patient then lies on a scanner table that passes slowly through the PET/CT scanner, which resembles a donut-shaped sphere.

The appointment lasts approximately 90 minutes. The actual time spent in the scanner is about 30 minutes. Patients who may be pregnant should avoid exposure to radiation and should undergo the procedure only if it is absolutely necessary.

UCLA nuclear medicine

Clinical nuclear medicine services at SM-UCLA&OH features state-of-the-art PET and PET/CT units. PET technology can detect disease processes early – often before symptoms appear – giving physicians a head start in treating cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders.

Spanning the spectrum from “bench to bedside,” the research activities of the UCLA Division of Nuclear Medicine include the detection and staging of a wide range of cancers, the identification of causes of heart failure, the exploration of human brain functions and the merging of molecular diagnostics with molecular therapies.

UCLA Department of Radiology

The UCLA Department of Radiology provides the full range of diagnostic imaging services on both an inpatient and an outpatient basis, including radiography, fluoroscopy, ultrasound (including color Doppler), CT, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Additional specialized services are offered in the following areas: breast imaging, cardiovascular radiology, emergency radiology, endovascular therapy, gastrointestinal radiology, genitourinary radiology, head and neck radiology, musculoskeletal radiology, neuroradiology, pediatric radiology, thoracic radiology, and ultrasonography.

The department strives to offer the best service possible to both patients and healthcare providers, and offers sameday reporting on the web via a secure network. By linking the capabilities of the Santa Monica and Westwood campuses with integrated teleradiology infrastructure, the Department of Radiology has developed into one of the most advanced radiology groups in Los Angeles, bringing the expertise of the academic radiologist into the community.

Contact information

UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica
1245 16th Street, Suite 105
Santa Monica, CA 90404

(310) 319-4970 appointments
(310) 319-4980 fax

Visit our websites for further information:

Participating physicians

Martin Allen-Auerbach, M.D.
Clinical Director, Nuclear Medicine Services
Assistant Clinical Professor, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica

Edward Zaragoza, M.D.
Clinical Director, Multi-Specialty Radiology
Associate Clinical Professor, Radiological Sciences
UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica

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