The PET/CT scanner is a diagnostic imaging system that combines PET and CT into one unit. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) utilizes a radiopharmaceutical to visualize processes or functions within the body. CT stands for Computed Tomography or CAT Scan. This technique uses x-rays to make cross-sectional images (called slices) of your body. The structure of body organs is more clearly visualized than with conventional x-rays.
Advanced system software in the PET/CT scanner combines the anatomical information obtained from CT with the functional PET information to form not a photograph, but a biograph – an image that records living tissues and life processes with great precision and detail.
What is a PET/CT scan used to examine?
The PET/CT can be used for a number of diagnostic reasons. The most common of which is in the imaging of neoplasm in the body. By showing not only anatomy, but function too, it is a powerful tool to help in the oncology arena.
PET studies help pin point and rule out cancers and diseases of the following: Breast, Colorectal, Esophageal, Head and Neck, Lung, Melanoma, Lymphoma, Brain (Refractory Seizures, Alzheimer’s disease, and various types of dementia), Heart (Myocardial Viability), Cervical, Ovarian, Testicular, and Thyroid.
How will PET/CT help me?
PET/CT is recognized as a valuable diagnostic tool in its own right, but in the case of a biograph, the sum of these two technologies is greater than the individual parts. CT creates images with extreme anatomical detail. However, CT does not show the living processes taking place in the body. PET images reveal much about the living processes in the body, but lack the detail to pinpoint the exact location which these processes are taking place.
That is where a PET/CT scan comes in. A PET scan may reveal the existence of a tumor but not its precise location in the tissue. The biograph image, with its anatomical detail, allows the physician to detect the tumor and know its exact location. The benefits to the patient are multiple, earlier diagnosis, accurate staging and localization and precise treatment.
How do I schedule a PET/CT scan?
Talk to your referring doctor about scheduling a PET/CT scan with Huntington-Hill Imaging Center today. Appointments are available Monday – Friday, between the hours of 6:30am to 2:00pm. For more information or scheduling, please call a customer care representative at (626) 229-8969.
What preparations are necessary for the PET/CT scan?
Depending on the type of PET/CT study ordered by your physician, typically you will be asked not to eat or drink anything except water for six hours prior to your exam. You may take any prescribed medications on the day of your exam unless instructed by your physician not to do so. If possible, try to wear loose-fitting clothes on the day of your scan, arrive on time, and avoid strenuous activity 24 hours in advance of your study. Engage in only minimal physical activity on the day of the exam.
During the PET/CT scan, all you have to do is relax, and lie as still as you can. You will first receive a small injection of a radiopharmaceutical contrast about 60 minutes before the actual scan. It will not make you feel any different. Depending on the type of study, you may also receive a contrast medium at the time of the CT portion. This is a dye that increases the quality of the CT scan images. The contrast medium may be administered orally, or by injection, or both. Some patients report a warm feeling or an unusual taste in their mouth from the contrast medium.
Should I tell the PET/CT technologist about my medical history?
Yes. Before you are given a radiopharmaceutical or a contrast medium, be sure to tell the technologist if you have allergies, asthma, heart problems, diabetes and kidney problems; if you think you might be pregnant; or if you are currently undergoing any radiation therapy.