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Amyloid PET Imaging

What is amyloid?

  • Beta (β)-amyloid deposits, also called plaques, are found on the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Scientists and researchers think plaques contribute to memory loss and other symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

What is amyloid PET imaging?

  • A brain positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a procedure that takes 3D pictures of the brain and shows if (β)-amyloid deposits (plaques) are on the brain.
  • A tracer is used to bind to amyloid and make it appear on the scan. Therefore, it shows if there is (β)-amyloid deposits (plaques) in your brain.


How is an amyloid PET scan performed?

  • A small amount of the tracer is injected into your vein (IV). The tracer travels through your bloodstream and collects in your brain. The tracer sticks to (β)-amyloid deposits (plaques) if there is any in your brain.
  • A waiting period of twenty (20) to ninety (90) minutes may take place to allow the tracer to travel through your body.
  • You will lie down on a narrow table and the technician will secure your head to the holder with a strap. The table will slide into the scanner, which is a large machine with a round, doughnut-shaped hole in the middle. Only your head will be in the scanner. You must lie still during the scan so that clear pictures of your brain can be created.
  • The PET scan only takes up to twenty (20) minutes.

Why is amyloid PET imaging important in clinical research?

  • One or more PET scans are required for most Alzheimer's clinical trials.
  • The scans show whether you have (β)-amyloid deposits (plaques) in your brain. This can determine if you can participate in a study or not. It also is a measurement that will be used to test if the treatment you are receiving effects the (β)-amyloid deposits (plaques) in your brain.

What are the risks of amyloid PET imaging?

  • You may feel a sting when the tracer is injected into your vein (IV).
  • You may experience mild side effects of the tracer such as redness and irritation at the injection site, nausea, dizziness or more.
  • There is a slight chance of having an allergic reaction to the tracer.
  • There is a small amount of radiation used in an amyloid PET scan. More than half the radiation will leave your body within two (2) hours of being injected.
  • You may experience anxiety if you are afraid of small spaces (claustrophobic), but you may be given a medicine to help you feel sleepy or less anxious.
  • The PET scan itself causes no pain. You may experience some discomfort because the table may be hard or cold, but you may request a pillow and a blanket.