What is PET/CT?
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans are both standard imaging tools that physicians use to pinpoint disease states in the body. A PET scan provides physiologic information about the body, while the CT scan provides anatomic information about the body. By combining PET with CT, the radiologist can not only identify regions of abnormal function but also accurately localize those regions. Your physician will order a PET to diagnose and create a treatment plan that is appropriate for your needs.
PET images contain information about tissue function. PET uses a radioactive isotope that absorbs into tissue. Although all normal cells in the body use glucose, certain diseased cells, like cancer cells, utilize more glucose. The PET/CT visualizes these highly metabolic diseased cells.
PET HELPS DIAGNOSE
- Distinguish benign from malignant tumors
- Stage cancer by showing if it has spread (metastasized) in the body
- More sensitized detection of recurrent tumors than CT
- Assess benefits of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy on tumor size and growth
- Cancers for which PET can be particularly helpful include (but are not limited to):
- Non Small Cell Lung
- Single Pulmonary Nodule
- Head and Neck
- Small Cell Lung
- Accurately provide early diagnoses for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- Locate the focus of seizures for some patients with epilepsy
- Evaluate extent of stroke and recovery following therapy
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
- A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is given by an IV injection
- You will wait approximately one hour, while the medicine is distributed throughout your body
- You will then be asked to lie on a table that passes through the PET/CT scanner
- Scan time is approximately 30 minutes
- Low risk procedure
- The computer then fuses the images acquired from both devices
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE?
- Nothing to eat or drink 6 hours prior to injection time, except for water and medications
- Well hydrated
- No candy, mints, cough syrups, lozenges, Gatorade, alcohol or gum 24 hours prior to injection time (nothing that contains sugar or sugar substitutes)
- No exercise the day of the exam
- Last meal should be high in protein, low in carbohydrates
- Bring a driver (if needed for claustrophobic patients)
HOW DO I GET THE RESULTS?
After your study is over, the images will be evaluated by one of our board-certified Radiologists with expertise in PET/CT Imaging. A final report will be sent to your doctor, who can then discuss the results with you in detail. Should you have any questions regarding your exam, we will be happy to discuss them with you.