PET-CT scan can be used to detect a curable cause of high blood pressure- Conn's Syndrome, according to researchers at University of Cambridge.
Conn's syndrome is caused by a benign tumor called an adenoma growing in one of the adrenal glands located close to the kidneys. This tumor causes the over-production of a key blood pressure-regulating hormone called aldosterone. PET-Ct scan which is generally used to detect cancer, can be used to find 5p-sized benign tumors in the adrenal glands.
It is tricky to diagnose Conn's syndrome which amounts to 5% (600,00) cases of hypertension. Once detected it can be treated successfully with surgery or medication.
The PET-CT scan is far less invasive, quicker and more accurate than the current method. Presently a blood test using blood from a vein supplying the adrenal gland to measure levels of the hormone aldosterone is used to diagnose Conn's syndrome. This procedure is difficult to perform and often fails to confirm the diagnosis. During the study it was noted that the 45-minute scan accurately identified adenomas responsible for high BP in 76% of patients.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.