Positron emission tomography: a strategy for provision in the UK


Produced by the Intercollegiate Standing Committee on Nuclear Medicine, published January 2003 

Nuclear medicine provides essential diagnostic tools for hospital medicine. Nuclear medicine services are already indispensable to physicians in a number of specialties; the addition of positron emission tomography (PET) to the field will increase diagnostic range and accuracy. The challenge of maintaining current facilities while introducing a comprehensive PET service is addressed in these reports from the Intercollegiate Standing Committee on Nuclear Medicine (ICSCNM).

Clinical PET is an important new technology with a potentially significant role in the management of patients with cancer, and increasingly in the specialties of neurology and cardiology.

The UK's PET programme has, however, fallen well behind those of the US and continental Europe. Access is extremely limited, and resources unevenly distributed around the UK. A lack of capital and trained staff will exacerbate the problem of bringing the service up to an acceptable level.

This report presents a strategic plan for setting up a high-standard PET service, and argues that established cancer networks, cancer centres and tertiary referral centres should provide the structure upon which such a service is based. The document describes PET and its role in the management of disease. It provides a clear outline of the potential value, and practical implications, of introducing an extensive PET service.

The document also includes:

  • a table setting out the clinical indications for positron emission tomography, divided into oncological, cardiological, neurological and miscellaneous applications
  • appendices providing detailed costings for the establishment and running of a positron emission tomography service
  • an extensive bibliography.

Positron emission tomography is a timely and important report which provides detailed analysis and practical guidance, making it essential reading to anyone funding, managing and working within nuclear medicine.


  • The role of PET - in oncology; in cardiology and cardiac surgery; in neurology and neuropsychiatry
  • Cost effectiveness
  • The requirements of a national PET service
  • Current problems and their solutions
  • Suggested strategy for the provision of a PET service
  • Conclusion
  • Clinical indications for positron emission tomography
  • Appendix 1: Imaging with a distant supply of tracer: the minimum establishment
  • Appendix 2: Imaging with full production of tracer: the minimum establishment
  • Appendix 3: Training issues

Copies available on request.

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