What is a PET/CT?
Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging.
Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, gastrointestinal, endocrine, neurological disorders and other abnormalities within the body. Because nuclear medicine procedures are able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, they offer the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages as well as a patient’s immediate response to therapeutic interventions.
Nuclear medicine imaging procedures are non-invasive and, with the exception of intravenous injections, are usually painless medical tests that help physicians diagnose and evaluate medical conditions. These imaging scans use radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers.
A PET scan measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism, to help doctors evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning. CT imaging uses special X-ray equipment, and in some cases a contrast material, to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These images can then be interpreted by a radiologist on a computer monitor. CT imaging provides excellent anatomic information.
The combined PET/CT scans provide images that pinpoint the anatomic location of abnormal metabolic activity within the body. The combined scans have been shown to provide more accurate diagnoses
When you make your appointment remember…
- Inform staff if there’s a possibility you are pregnant or if you are breastfeeding
- Discuss any recent illnesses, medical conditions, medications you’re taking including herbal supplements and allergies – especially to contrast material. You will likely be told not to eat anything and to drink only water several hours before your scan.
Diabetic patients will receive special instructions to prepare for this exam. Metal objects including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins may affect the CT images and should be left at home or removed prior to your exam. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids. Please leave jewellery at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown.