PET Compounds

The positron emitting radioisotopes used are usually produced by a cyclotron, and chemicals are labeled with these radioactive atoms. The labeled compound, called a radiotracer, is injected into the bloodstream and eventually makes its way to the brain through blood circulation. Detectors in the PET scanner detect the radioactivity as the compound accumulates in various regions of the brain. A computer uses the data gathered by the detectors to create multi-dimensional (normally 3-dimensional volumetric or 4-dimensional time-varying) images that show the distribution of the radiotracer in the brain. Especially useful are a wide array of ligands used to map different aspects of neurotransmitter activity, with by far the most commonly used PET tracer being a labeled form of glucose