PET Scan Studies

The Penn Frontotemporal Degeneration Center is currently conducting research to improve our ability to diagnose neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Mild-Cognitive Impairment, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body disease, Frontotemporal degeneration, Primary Progressive Aphasia, Corticobasal Degeneration, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Multiple System Atrophy and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with frontotemporal degeneration. The underlying cause of these conditions cannot be determined from a clinical assessment alone.

This research will help physicians and research scientists study how useful PET/CT scans are in determining the underlying pathology of these different diseases, and will contribute to the development of potential treatment methods that will target these specific causes of disease. The research will help us gain a better understanding of what is happening through comparative studies of individuals with similar neurological conditions.

These studies, which will take place at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, involve physical and neurological examination, MRI imaging, cognitive tests that evaluate memory and language and a single PET/CT scan. You will also be asked to return for a follow-up visit one year from the PET/CT scan.

If you are interested in learning more about participating in these studies, please call the Penn FTD Center at 215-349- 5863.

What is a PET Scan?

A PET scan provides a way to measure specific proteins that may be contributing to someone’s neurologic condition.  In particular a PET scan may evaluate whether there is amyloid or tau misfolding in the brain.  PET works by administering a small radiotracer into the vein of your arm that will travel to your brain.  You will be asked to like on your back in the scanner, similar to an MRI, for about an hour.  There is some radioactivity but the amount used has been demonstrated to be safe and compared to about a sunny day on the beach or other imaging techniques like a CT scan.