Frequently Asked Questions|
What is PET?
What is PET/CT?
Will I receive an injection or medicine for
How to get the best scan
How do I prepare for the scan?
When will I get the results?
PET, or Positron Emission Tomography, is a non-invasive, diagnostic test that takes powerful images
of the human body's biological functions. PET allows radiologists to see
metobolic changes in your cells that may indicate disease. Traditional diagnostic imaging techniques, such as x-rays, MRI or
CT scans, show only the physical structure of the body. PET is unique because it can detect metabolic
changes often before there is a change in gross anatomy. In many cases this allows the physician to find
diseases in their very early stages, sooner than any other traditional techniques.
PET/CT is a technology that combines two
highly effective diagnostic tests, a PET Scan and a CT Scan, into one easy to
read picture. A PET/CT scan will show your physician what is going on both
metabolically and physically so that even subtle evidence of disease can be
detected. With only one of these scans a subtle change could be easily
overlooked. When combining PET and CT imaging in one scan it offers a more
thorough examination to evaluate either your disease or how your disease is
responding to the treatment your doctor has recommended.
Prior to your PET/CT scan you will receive a
very small injection of a radiopharmaceutical called FDG. FDG stands for “fluoro-deoxy-glucose.”
This is a very low concentration solution of glucose in water. The glucose, or
sugar molecules, have a radioactive material attached to them which allows the
scanner to “see” where the sugar is being used (metabolized) in your body. It
works because cancer cells are highly metabolic and this sugary substance will
attach itself to these cells. Your doctor can then determine whether or not
there may be cancer cells before a tumor is even formed.
Your PET/CT scan appointment:
It is very important to arrive on time for your
appointment. The FDG that is injected prior to your scan is calibrated for
you personally based on the scheduled time of your scan. You must follow
the “patient preparation” guidelines provided by your physician. Most
importantly you must be fasting, i.e. no food, gum, candy, mints, coffee or
tea for at least 4 hours prior to your scan. You can drink as much water as
you would like, in fact, we encourage you to do so. Eating or drinking
anything but water 4 hours prior to your scan could affect the quality of
your scan. You will be on the scanner for 20 to 30 minutes. The physician
who ordered the PET/CT scan will go over the test results with you.
A clear and useful scan can only be obtained if the patient complies with preparation guidelines. Please click on
“Patient Preparation” below for more specific information on how to prepare for your PET/CT.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with [F-18] fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG PET) has emerged as an important
diagnostic tool in cancer imaging. Having an understanding of how PET works will help create the best
results and the benefits such as: early detection, more accurate staging of cancers, and determining
response to treatment.
The results of the PET/CT scan are read by the radiologists and that report is given to the patients
referring physician. The referring physician will go over the results of the PET/CT scan
with the patient
and determine the best course of treatment, if any.
Medicare and many private insurance carriers cover PET/CT Imaging for oncological, neurological and cardiac
applications. It’s best to check with your insurance carrier to ensure that PET/CT Imaging is
covered by your plan.