PET/CT is an imaging procedure that provides physicians with information about the body’s chemistry, cellular function and exact location of disease. The precise images obtained with PET/CT are not available with other technologies, such as CT, MRI or X-ray alone. PET/CT can provide information that enables your physician to make an earlier diagnosis or to determine if a treatment is working. A PET scan measures the energy used by a patient’s body on a cellular level, while a CT scan captures images of the body’s structure at different levels. This technology produces images that provide anatomic and metabolic information from a single scan on a single system. These fused images translate into more information for medical professionals.
During a PET/CT:
- Prior to the scan the patient is injected with a small amount of radioactive glucose tracer (such as sugar). The tracer is labeled with a short-lived radioisotope.
- The patient then rests for approximately 45 minutes while the organs being evaluated process the radioactive tracer. There are no side effects from the injected tracer. The radiation exposure associated with PET/CT is safe.
- During the exam the patient lies on the scanner table.
- As the tracer emits signals, the PET/CT scanner detects and records the information, which is then converted into images through computer processing.
- When the scan is finished the images will be reviewed for quality. The resulting images are studied by a board-certified radiologist, and the interpretation is sent to the referring physician.