What is the role of PET scanning in the workup of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning reveals multiple deficits, but no finding characterizes all people with autism, and the results vary with each individual. [36, 139]

On 18-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) PET scans, the anterior rectal gyrus is larger on the left than the right in some patients, a finding opposite to the asymmetry seen in typical individuals. Some individuals also exhibit an increased glucose metabolic rate in the right posterior calcarine cortex and a decreased glucose metabolic rate in the left posterior putamen and the left medial thalamus. [140]

Increased metabotropic glutamate receptor type 5 (mGluR5) was demonstrated in the postcentral gyrus and the cerebellum of men with ASD in contrast to age- and sex-matched healthy controls without ASD. [141]

See PET Scanning in Autism Spectrum Disorders for further information, including the PET scan of a boy with autism in the video files posted throughout the article.

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