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PET/CT Scan (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography)

PET/CT Scan is a type of imaging test that combines positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) techniques. These scans can be performed on any part of the body.

How PET/CT Work Together

When used together, PET/CT Scans evaluate the function and structure of the body and are helpful in diagnosing cancer. Each technology provides a specific function:

  • PET scan – Has the unique ability to pick up the metabolic signal of cancerous cells in the body that are actively growing
  • CT scan – Is a highly sophisticated x-ray that provides a detailed image of the internal organs, revealing the size and shape of cancerous tumors

Treatment Benefits

Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are all treatment options for cancer. PET/CT can precisely pinpoint the size and location of cancerous tumors, which aids in treatment planning. In doing so, treatment can be more accurately targeted to these areas. This translates into more refined treatment and better patient outcomes.

Nuclear Medicine Imaging

Nuclear imaging uses small doses of radioactive substances to help produce images that show activity in various parts of the body. The testing is used for diagnosis and treatment of a number of diseases.

The radioactive substance, which is injected, swallowed or inhaled as a gas, is attracted to particular organs, bones or other tissues. When the substance releases energy in the form of radiation, special cameras detect the energy and record its movement and location. These cameras rotate around the body and create two- and three-dimensional images of tissues and organs, such as the brain, bones, thyroid, heart, lungs and kidneys.

Types of Nuclear Medicine Imaging

Two types of nuclear medicine imaging include:

  • PET scan (see further details above)
  • Nuclear stress test (also called myocardial perfusion imaging)

Nuclear imaging is sometimes used in:

  • Ventilation/perfusion study for pulmonary embolism
  • Bone scan
  • Hepatobiliary study
  • Lymphatic imaging
  • Nuclear medicine renal scan
  • Iodine 123 thyroid scan
  • Vascular flow study
  • Gastric emptying study
  • DaTscan for evaluation of Parkinsonian syndrome
  • PET/CT scan

How to Prepare

Since nuclear imaging is used into visualize a variety of structures including organ, tissue and bone systems within the body, preparation may vary depending upon the type of scan. Please consult your physician and be sure to follow all instructions provided by your healthcare provider to prepare for your imaging procedure.