PET/CT Scans: Combined Imaging for Cancer & Other Conditions

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If you have cancer or some types of brain or heart disease, your doctor may need to see inside of you with a PET/CT scan.

PET/CT combines 2 type sof imaging tests:

PET scans use a small amount of radiation to see and measure activity inside your body. A CT scan uses multiple x-rays to put together a picture of the inside of your body.

A computer uses this information to create a 3-dimensional picture of the body part being scanned. 

PET/CT scans are useful for the early diagnosis of cancer. We can see a tumor and how the cells that make up the tumor work together. This can help us to find out if it's in fact cancer. PET/CT scanning can spot the spread of cancer to other areas of your body.

PET/CT scans are also used to study disorders of the:

  • Brain
  • Endocrine system
  • Heart

Getting Ready for Your PET/CT Scan

We'll call you the day before your scan to review how to prepare. 

To prepare, you'll need to:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything else besides water (starting 6 hours before your scan)
  • Avoid hard exercise at least 24 hours before the scan
  • Talk to your doctor if you're anxious about being in enclosed spaces; they can give you a light sedative for the scan

If you're breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before your scan. They may recommend that you pump. You'll use the pumped milk while you wait for the radioactive material we use to help with the scan to leave your body.

If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about taking your diabetes medications and/or insulin before your test. Abnormal blood glucose levels of higher than 200mg/dl can throw off the scan results. 

What Is a PET/CT Scan Like?

  • An IV is placed in your arm.
  • You'll be give a small amount of the radioactive material for the PET scan.
  • Wait for about 60 minutes.
  • You'll have to lie flat on your back on the machine's table.
  • The table moves slowly through a large ring. You'll need to be still for about 15 minutes while the scan is completed.

The placement of the IV may give you some discomfort, but there should be no other pain involved. 

After Your PET/CT Scan   

We'll review the images and sends the results to your doctor. You doctor will go over the results with you.

Based on the results, your doctor will decide if any further tests or treatments are needed.