Positron Emission Tomography, also called a PET scan, is a nuclear medicine exam that produces a three dimensional image of functional processes in the body. A PET scan uses a small amount of a radioactive drug to show differences between healthy and diseased tissue. PET/CT combines the fine structural detail of CT with PET's ability to detect changes in cell function. This combination allows for earlier and more accurate detection of disease than either CT or PET alone. A PET/CT can help your physician diagnose a problem, determine the best approach to treatment or monitor your progress.
Help CenterWhat are some common uses of PET?
How should I prepare for a PET scan?
What should I expect during this exam?
What will I experience during the procedure?
When and how will I find the resulsts of my test?
Are there any health risks associated with PET?
What are some common uses of PET?Print
The diagnostic images produced by PET are used to evaluate a variety of diseases. These include, but are not limited to:
- Determine benign from malignant tumor in suspicious areas
- Survey the whole body for cancer that may have spread
- Monitor success of therapy
- Detect recurrent tumors
- Determine what heart tissue is still alive following a suspected heart attack
- Predict success of angioplasty (balloon) by-pass surgery
- Evaluate the heart for blood flow, heart function and signs of coronary artery disease
- Detect Alzheimer's and other dementia
- Determine the precise location for Epilepsy surgery
- Diagnose Parkinson's and other movement disorders
- Evaluate the brain for memory disorders, brain tumors, and seizure disorders
How should I prepare for a PET scan?Print
PET is usually done on an outpatient basis. Your should:
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
- Do not eat six hours before the scan
- Drink water
- Consult with your physician regarding the use of medications before the test
- Diabetic patients should ask for any specific diet guidelines to control glucose levels during the day of the test
What should I expect during this exam?Print
- You will receive an intravenous (IV) injection of the radioactive substance. In some cases it may be given through an existing intravenous line.
- The radioactive substance will then take approximately 60 minutes to travel through the body and be absorbed by the tissue. During this time, you will be asked to rest quietly and avoid significant movement or talking, which may alter the localization of the administered substance.
- You will be positioned on the PET scanner table and asked to lie still during your exam.
- Scanning takes 20 to 45 minutes.
- Usually there are no restrictions on daily routine after the test. You should drink plenty of fluids to flush the radioactive substance from your body.
What will I experience during the procedure?Print
- If you are given an intravenous injection, you will feel a slight prick at the injection site; however, you will not feel the substance in your body.
- You will be made as comfortable as possible on the exam table before you are positioned in the PET scanner for the test.
- Patients who are claustrophobic may feel some anxiety while positioned in the scanner.
- Some patients may find it uncomfortable to hold still in one position for more than a few minutes.
When and how will I find out the results of my test?
One of our on-staff Radiologists will interpret the images of your PET scan and forward a report to your referring physician. Your physician will review the results of your test with you.
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Are there any health risks associated with PET?Print
Since the doses of radiotracer administered are small, diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures result in low radiation exposure, acceptable for diagnostic exams. Thus, the radiation risk is very low compared with the potential benefits. Nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures have been used for more than five decades, and there are no known long-term adverse effects from such low-dose exposure. Allergic reactions to radiopharmaceuticals may occur but are extremely rare and are usually mild. Nevertheless, you should inform the nuclear medicine personnel of any allergies you may have or other problems that may have occured during a previous nuclear medicine exam. Injection of the radiotracer may cause slight pain and redness which should rapidly resolve. Women should always inform their physician or radiology technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breastfeeding their baby.
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