What is PET/CT and how does it work?
PET/CT combines Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with Computed Tomography (CT) technology to aid in the diagnosis of cancer. PET/CT is also a valuable tool for determining the extent to which cancer has spread and how a patient is responding to treatment. In addition, PET can be used to evaluate patients with cardiac and neurological disorders such as seizures and dementia.
PET is a nuclear medicine test that uses special imaging cameras and a radioactive solution called FDG
(Flurodeoxyglucose) to create very clear pictures of cell metabolism. CT uses X-rays to provide detailed information about the location, size, and shape of lesions or growths in the body. When combined in a single machine, the two techniques provide accurate, specific information about where abnormalities are located and whether they are cancerous.
How do you prepare for your PET/CT procedure?
- You will be asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment and to bring your prescription or referral. If you need to reschedule or cancel, call 24 hours in advance to avoid a cancellation fee.
- Let us know what medications you take, including non-prescription medicines and supplements.
- Tell us if you are or may be pregnant or are breastfeeding.
- Do not eat, drink, chew gum, or use cough drops or mints for 6 hours before your exam.
- Avoid caffeine, sugar, tobacco, and heavy exercise for 48 hours before your exam.
- If you need to take medication before your exam, you can use a very small amount of water to swallow the pills.
- If you are diabetic, please contact the office in advance for instructions.
What should you bring to your procedure?
Prescription or referral from your physician
List of medications you take
Previous MRI, CT or PET/CT scans and reports performed outside our network
What will you experience during your PET/CT scan?
- Your medical history will be reviewed with you prior to starting the exam. Your blood sugar level will be checked by a finger stick to ensure your glucose is at a normal level. The technologist will then administer an injection which contains the FDG solution which will highlight the cells being examined.
- You will wait for about 60 to 90 minutes as the solution distributes itself throughout your body.
- Unless you are having a scan of the brain, you can usually read or listen to music while waiting for your scan to begin. If you are having a brain scan, we'll ask you to wait in a quiet, dimly lit room to avoid stimulating your brain.
- You will be asked to remove any metal from the part of your body being scanned.
- Do not bring children or pregnant women with you to the exam.
During the PET/CT scan
Staff will escort you to the scanner and make you comfortable.
We will take images as you lie still in the scanner.
You will be able to communicate with the technologist throughout the procedure
The scan usually lasts between 30 and 45 minutes.
After the PET/CT scan
You may leave immediately after your PET/CT scan and resume your normal activities.
Do not have immediate contact with children or pregnant women for 6 hours from the time of injection (4 hours after leaving the office).
The radiologist will review your scans and send the results to your physician. Urgent findings will be called or faxed in to your physician.