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Applications of positron emission tomography (PET) in neurology
  1. Y F Tai,
  2. P Piccini
  1. MRC Clinical Sciences Centre and Division of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr P Piccini
 MRC Cyclotron Building, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road W12 0NN, London, UK;


Positron emission tomography (PET) is a powerful imaging technique which enables in vivo examination of brain functions. It allows non-invasive quantification of cerebral blood flow, metabolism, and receptor binding. In the past PET has been employed mainly in the research setting due to the relatively high costs and complexity of the support infrastructure, such as cyclotrons, PET scanners, and radiochemistry laboratories. In recent years, because of advancements in technology and proliferation of PET scanners, PET is being increasingly used in clinical neurology to improve our understanding of disease pathogenesis, to aid with diagnosis, and to monitor disease progression and response to treatment. This article aims to provide an overview of the principles of PET and its applications to clinical neurology.

  • functional imaging
  • neurology
  • PET
  • positron emission tomography
  • AD, Alzheimer’s disease
  • CBD, corticobasal degeneration
  • DBS, deep-brain stimulation
  • DLB, dementia with Lewy bodies
  • 18FDG, 18F-2-deoxyglucose
  • 18F-dopa, 18F-6-Fluorodopa
  • FMZ, flumazenil
  • GABA, γ-aminobutyric acid
  • GP, globus pallidus
  • HD, Huntington’s disease
  • LORs, lines of response
  • MSA, multiple system atrophy
  • PD, Parkinson’s disease
  • PET, positron emission tomography
  • POp pars opercularis
  • PSP, progressive supranuclear palsy
  • SMA, supplementary motor area
  • STN, subthalamic nucleus

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  • Competing interests: none declared