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Neurology

Molecular imaging technologies play an important part in neuroimaging because they provide a 'window' into the living brain.

Essential element of imaging excellence.

Where computed tomography (CT) and conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offer structural information on the brain, technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging allow physicians to visualize brain function and measure its chemical processes. Abnormal brain function is often detected by molecular imaging before the structural changes resulting from brain cell death can be seen on CT or MRI.

Click on each condition below to learn how physicians use nuclear medicine to visualize brain fuction and measure its chemical processes.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD)

Irreversible and progressive neurological disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.

Brain death/injury

Brain death is complete cessation of brain function as evidenced by absence of brain-wave activity on an electroencephalogram: sometimes used as a legal definition of death. Traumatic brain injury is damage to the brain as the result of an injury.

(Sept. 16, 2010 © 1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)

Brain tumor

Occurs when certain cells within the brain grow in an uncontrolled, abnormal manner.

Cisternography/cerebral fluid leak (CFL)

A cerebral fluid leak (CFL) is an escape of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (LBD)

LBD is an umbrella term for two related diagnoses. It refers to both Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Epilepsy/Seizure disorders

A brain disorder in which the patient experiences repeated, unpredictable seizures, or episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior.

Frontotemporal disorder

Form of dementia caused by a family of brain disorders known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Affected areas are generally associated with personality, behavior and language. Pick’s disease is an example of this type of dementia.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

A condition in which memory or other cognitive functions are below normal but do not interfere with daily functioning.

Movement disorders

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disorder that leads to tremors and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination. Huntington’s disease results from genetically programmed degeneration of brain cells, causing uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties and emotional disturbance.

Stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted due to a blood vessel in brain being blocked (ischemic stroke) or bursts causing internal bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke).

Vascular dementia (VaD)

May arise as a result of cerebrovascular disease in which the flow of blood to the brain is limited or non-existent to certain areas of the brain.