In the 1960s and 1970s, positron emission tomography (PET) was developed as a research tool, particularly for the investigation of neurophysiology.1-4 In the 1980s and 1990s, the clinical utility of PET in oncology, neurology, and cardiology was demonstrated.5-10 The approval of reimbursement by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for oncologic PET and the subsequent establishment of regional distribution centers of fluorine-18 (18F)-fluoro-2-deoxy-glucose (FDG) in the late 1990s contributed greatly to the expansion in the clinical use of PET. This expansion led to greater availability of PET for pediatric imaging as well as for adults.11,12 Pediatric PET has demonstrated utility in neurology as well as oncology, and the application of PET in pediatrics will continue to grow as its clinical potential is further realized and as new positron-emitting radiopharmaceuticals are developed. Several technologic factors, involving both physics and radiopharmaceutical chemistry, have contributed to the popularity of PET. It is substantially easier to develop a PET rather than a single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) analogue to many naturally occurring, biologically relevant chemicals such as water, oxygen, carbon monoxide, ammonia, glucose, and a whole host of others. Thus PET is well suited to serve a very prominent role in this new and exciting era of molecular medicine.
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