Eric Pfeiffer Imaging Center

The Eric Pfeiffer Imaging Center at USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute offers PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography combined with Computed Tomography) brain imaging services inside the Center for Memory C.A.R.E. The Byrd Alzheimer's Institute is the first Alzheimer's research center in Florida with its own PET scanner on-site.

The Eric Pfeiffer Imaging Center is one of only a limited number of PET imaging sites in Florida to offer Amyvid brain imaging, the first and only FDA-approved diagnostic PET tracer for imaging beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. The Eric Pfeiffer Imaging Center is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

What is PET/CT Imaging?

PET/CT is a highly sophisticated imaging technique that actually combines two scans during a single exam: a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan that shows the body's physiologic changes and a Computed Tomography (CT) scan that shows the structure of the anatomy where the changes are taking place. Combining these two images provides detailed information to physicians about the presence or spread of disease and accurately identifies its precise location.

How has PET/CT been used to help diagnosis Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's disease is one of many possible causes of dementia or cognitive impairment. Patients with symptoms of cognitive impairment can be misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and up to one in five patients clinically diagnosed with AD, upon autopsy, are found to have a different cause of dementia. In conjunction with clinical assessment, an imaging test or brain scan with FDG (fluoro-deoxy glucose, a kind of sugar) has been used to detect patterns of reduced brain activity that supports diagnosis of AD relative to other types of dementia. This distinction based upon the part of the brain that has low activity, and is helpful, but not definitive, in diagnosing the cause of the dementia. FDG PET scanning is also a powerful tool for the detection and assessment of cancer and epileptic seizures.

How does the new method, with Amyvid, enhance diagnosis of Alzheimer's?

Amyvid is a new diagnostic PET tracer to detect the presence or absence of amyloid plaques in the brain while patients are still alive. These plaques are the hallmark of AD and in the past could only be seen under a microscope at autopsy. The Amyvid sticks to the amyloid, and after the excess washes out, any remaining tracer found by the PET scan in the brain indicates the presence or absence of amyloid. The absence of amyloid in the brain permits the doctor to rule out Alzheimer's as a cause of the memory problem, and intensifies the search for alternative, possibly treatable causes of the disorder. The presence of amyloid strongly suggests Alzheimer's disease as the cause of the cognitive impairment and helps guide the treatment plan. For questions on payment and scheduling for Amyvid PET imaging, please call (813) 396-0728.

How do I schedule a PET scan?

All individuals will first need to be evaluated by a physician and obtain a referral for PET/CT imaging. Patients who would like to know more about PET/CT should contact their physician, or request an appointment to be seen by a provider at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute by calling (813) 396-0728. Our clinical providers can help assess whether it is appropriate to consider a PET/CT scan based on the patient's symptoms.

What is ACR accreditation?

The American College of Radiology gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting ACR Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures, and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report they can use for continuous practice improvement.

The ACR is a national professional organization serving more than 34,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.