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.
What is PET Scan?
PET imaging is a non-invasive, diagnostic imaging technique for measuring the metabolic activity of cells in the human body. Since the early 1990s PET has been used by physicians across the country on patients with certain types of cancer as well as patients with conditions affecting the brain and heart. What makes PET unique is the image that it produces of the body’s basic biochemistry, compared to traditional diagnostic procedures like x-rays, which only produce images of the body’s anatomy or structure.
How it Works
A PET scan is completed in simple fashion by your physician. It begins with a small amount of radioactive material that is attached to a compound such glucose or water that is familiar to your body. From there the radioactive drug is given to you, usually by injection. Once the drug is in your body, the PET scanner will produce images for your physician to see how your body processes the drug. The final result will help in the diagnoses and treatment plan for which you will receive. This procedure is most commonly used in the diagnosis and care of patients with cancer.
What is CT Scan?
Radiologists use computerized x-ray equipment during this non-invasive diagnostic procedure to produce cross-sectional images of their patient’s body, this procedure is also sometimes called a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan. A CT scan is beneficial because of the detailed results it can produce in several types of tissues such as; lung, bone, soft tissue, and blood vessels. As a result of this specialized equipment used to create these cross-sectional images of one’s body, it is easier for radiologists to diagnose problems like cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, trauma, and musculoskeletal disorders.
How it Works
This procedure often begins with the administering of contrast agents to the patients. The contrast agents are used so that specific areas such as tissue or blood vessels can be highlighted resulting in a clearer picture in the end. The patient receives these contrast agents through their mouth, injection, via enema, or all three ways depending on what the scan is for. Next, the person lies just about motionless on a table that will slowly pass through a large x-ray machine. This painless procedure can take any where from 15 minutes to 1 hour.
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.