What is PET/CT?
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine procedure that produces pictures of the body’s biological functions. PET is a test that uses special imaging cameras and a radioactive type of sugar to produce pictures of the function and metabolism of the cells in the body.
CT stands for Computerized Tomography. CT is an x-ray test that generates a detailed view of the anatomy or structure of organs and tissues in the body. The CT scan can show the dimension of vessels, lymph nodes and organ systems.
A PET/CT scan merges both technologies into a single machine. It provides a picture of function (PET), a picture of anatomy (CT) and a merged picture of both the body’s metabolism and structure.
PET/CT is available via a mobile system each week at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.
Diseases Most Commonly Identified By PET:
- Heart Disease
- Neurological Disease
What Can I Expect During My PET Exam?
Before the scan, you will be injected with a radioactive tracer. The tracer is a compound such as sugar, labeled with a short-lived radioisotope. You will be asked to rest for approximately thirty to forty-five minutes while the radioactive compound distributes throughout your body, and is processed by the organs being evaluated.
The technologist will ask you to lie on the scanner table, which will slowly pass through the scanner. The CT portion of the exam is completed first, followed by the PET portion. You may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds while the CT scan is performed. It is important that you don't move for the duration of the scan. The length of the exam is determined by your height and area of interest. Most PET/CT scans are completed within 20 to 40 minutes.
The interpreting physician reads the images and contacts your referring physician. Your referring physician will discuss your test results with you.
What Are the Benefits of PET?
- The exam is painless and safe
- Differentiates between malignant and non-malignant tumors
- Provides earlier detection of recurrent cancer
- Eliminates invasive procedures and multiple tests
- Avoids unnecessary surgery
- Accurately assesses the location and the stage of malignant disease
- Detects tumors before they become cancerous
- Whole body survey locates previously unknown metastases
- Monitors the efficiency of patient care and management
- Reduces the time to diagnosis and leads to earlier treatment
What Should I Do to Prepare?
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Take any prescribed medication on the day of the exam unless instructed not to do so by your physician
- Leave valuables at home
- Arrive on time for the exam
Can I Eat or Drink Before the Exam?
This will depend on the type of study, but typically, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything four (4) to six (6) hours before the exam. If you are a diabetic, please notify the individual who is scheduling your PET exam. Special arrangements may need to be made in advance.
How Will I Feel After the Exam?
You should feel fine. There are no side effects from the injected tracer.
How Much Time Should I Allow?
Most patients can expect to be at the PET facility for at least two hours. The type of study performed will determine the exact time of the exam.
Consult Your Physician Prior to Your PET/CT Scan If:
- Your are or may be pregnant
- Your are diabetic
- You are unsure if you should take your medication
- You have had recent radiation therapy