Watch Now: The PET/CT Imaging Exam Overview

What is PET/CT Scan – PET/CT combines the functional information from a PET exam with the anatomical information from a CT exam into one single exam. A PET scan detects changes in cellular function – how your cells are utilizing nutrients like sugar and oxygen. Since these functional changes take place before physical changes occur, PET can provide information that enables your physician to make an early diagnosis. A CT scan uses a combination of x-rays and computers to give the radiologists a noninvasive way to see inside your body. One advantage of CT is its ability to rapidly acquire two-dimensional pictures of your anatomy. Using a computer these 2-D images can be presented in 3-D for in-depth clinical evaluation. The PET exam pinpoints metabolic activity in cells and the CT exam provides an anatomical reference. When these two scans are fused together, your physician can view metabolic changes in the proper anatomical context of your body. This information allows your doctor to administer and/or monitor your treatment program.
How it Works -Upon your arrival for a PET/CT exam you will have a butterfly or angiocath placed into a vein in your arm for eases of injection. A small volume of radioactive glucose will be injected through an IV line. After the injection, you must wait approximately 60-70 minutes before scanning can begin. The technologist will tell you the exact scan time after the injection has been completed. Patients will lie on a comfortable padded table. The table will move slowly through the tube-shaped PET/CT scanner as it acquires the information needed to generate diagnostic images. Patients will be asked to lie very still during the scan because movement can interfere with the results. For the CT scan you will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to minimize body movements. You may feel the table move while images are being taken at certain locations on your body. The technologist will monitor you during the exam that will last anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes. The specific details of your exam will be explained fully by the technologist or your physician.