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The combination PET/CT scanner is a major advance in imaging technology and patient care.
As the name implies, it combines two scanners -- the PET (Positron Emission Tomography), which shows metabolism and the function of cells, and the CT (Computed Tomography), which shows detailed anatomy -- into one.
The result is that doctors are now able to get highly defined, 3-D images inside the human body in one system. This provides important information about a patient's condition, and allows doctors to make the best choices about treatment of conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
For example, the PET scanner can provide critical information about the metabolic function of cancer cells, and can detect very small tumors, but not the exact location.
The CT scanner, however, provides that anatomic information. So the combination PET/CT scanner gives doctors a powerful new system for detecting and diagnosing conditions like cancer earlier and more accurately, increasing the patient's chances of a good outcome.
Another patient benefit of the PET/CT scanner is its open design. This reduces the chances patients will feel claustrophobic, a complaint many patients have had with scanners that have long tunnels.
When you arrive, we will take a review of your history and any past exams.
For the PET portion of the exam, you will receive an injection of radioactive material similar to that which is used for bone scans and other nuclear medicine exams. This is a radioactive tracer that must pass multiple quality control measures before it is used for any patient injection. PET radiopharmaceuticals lose their radioactivity very quickly (two hours) and only very small amounts are injected. In all cases, the majority of radioactivity will be eliminated from the body approximately 6 hours after injection and completely eliminated by 24 hours after injection.
For most studies, you will have to wait for the radiopharmaceutical to distribute itself - typically 30 minutes to an hour. During this time you will be asked to relax.
During the exam,
you will lie very still on a comfortable table that will move slowly through the scanner as it acquires the information needed to generate diagnostic images.
The PET/CT scan should last between 20 and 45 minutes. The exam procedure can vary depending on what we are looking for and what we discover along the way. Plan to spend two hours with us.
After the exam
you may return to designated area as soon as the exam is complete. Unless you've received special instructions, you will be able to eat and drink immediately - drinking lots of fluids soon after the exam will help remove any of the radiopharmaceutical that may still be in your system.
In the meantime, we'll begin preparing the results for review by a interpreting physician and then by your physician, who will tell you what we've learned.
To prepare for an exam please follow the following instructions: (Note these are site specific so please take the advice of your doctor or ask your doctor for their procedures.)
What is FDG?
FDG is an acronym for fluorodeoxyglucose. It is a radiolabeled analog of glucose. It is the most common tracer used to detect disease with PET imaging.
How does PET imaging compare with MRI, CT and x-ray imaging?
PET assesses functional abnormalities at the molecular level while MRI, CT and X-ray assess structural abnormalities. PET is often able to measure abnormal changes before a physical change can be seen on MRI, CT or X-ray.
What are the applications of PET/CT imaging?
PET imaging is used in:
What types of physicians utilize PET imaging as a diagnostic tool?
What are the main benefits of PET/CT imaging?
Is the procedure dangerous?
The procedures are not dangerous. Though the patient receives radiation exposure from the injection, it is similar to exposures from other diagnostic imaging procedures.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
The PET/CT Scanning Center
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