Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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The Inside Story
07 May 2013

The Inside Story

Feeling under the weather? How can doctors tell if vague symptoms like fatigue and weight loss are a sign of something more sinister? Blood tests are the first step, but if the results are inconclusive a body scan is useful. PET-CT is a medical imaging technique that combines x-rays and radioactive tracers to produce an image of the internal organs. This patient was injected with a radioactive tracer that mimics glucose. It‘s normal to see the tracer accumulate in metabolically-active organs like the brain, liver and kidneys, but if it‘s seen elsewhere it can signal problems. Here the tracer was found in the spleen (brown arrow), ribs (top, red arrow) and spine (bottom, red arrow). This suggested a white blood cell disorder, which was later confirmed with a bone marrow biopsy. Combining diagnostic techniques in this way gives doctors the best chance of successfully identifying and treating illness.

Written by Sarah McLusky

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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