Fluor-18 is the main radioisotope used for PET studies, being obtained through the use of a particle accelerator - the cyclotron - from the bombardment of oxygen-18 with protons. The incorporation of fluorine-18 into the deoxyglucose molecule gives the fluorodeoxyglucose-18F radiopharmaceutical (FDG).
In addition to FDG, cyclotron is also employed in the production of a number of other PET agents used in nuclear imaging, one of the fastest growing areas in nuclear medicine. When injected into the human body, these specialized radiopharmaceuticals, called biomarkers, detect and track abnormal cellular functions that may be associated with a variety of diseases. Visible through the use of sophisticated scanners, these biomarkers make it easier for doctors to work by allowing a noninvasive diagnosis of diseases in their earliest stages.
In oncology, most tumors have a high metabolic rate, with high glucose consumption. Injection of FDG in patients leads to high concentration of this molecule in the sites affected by the disease, being possible to detect these changes long before they are observed by conventional imaging methods.
In cardiology, FDG plays an important role in the investigation of myocardial viability. In the field of neurology, it is a powerful tool for the evaluation of epilepsy and the differentiation of dementias, especially Alzheimer's disease.