Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine study. Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses tiny amounts of radioactive material to diagnose a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers and to evaluate brain metabolism. The radioactivity disappears very quickly and no special precautions are needed unless you are breastfeeding. If this is the case please notify us before your appointment.

PET/CT fuses the nuclear images with a low dose computed tomography (CT) scan. The CT scan gives a lower dose of radiation compared to diagnostic CT scans This allows the information from both studies to be correlated and interpreted together, leading to more precise information and accurate diagnoses.

PET/CT scans are performed to:

  • help in diagnosis of cancer.
  • stage and restage disease in patients with known cancer.
  • assess the effectiveness of cancer therapy.
  • evaluate brain abnormalities, including mild cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimers Disease and frontotemporal dementia, possible recurrence of high grade tumors, and seizures in the preoperative setting.

 

Preparations for the exam:

  • Nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to appointment
  • Limit carbohydrates the day prior to the exam
  • Abstain from any strenuous exercise for 12 hours prior to the test

 

How is the study performed?

A small amount of blood will be taken to test your blood sugar level. An IV (intravenous line) will be started by a nurse or technologist. The dose of radiotracer is then injected. You will be asked to remain in a quiet environment to allow the tracer to accumulate in your body.

You will then be moved into the PET/CT scanner and the imaging will begin. You will need to remain still during imaging. The CT exam will be done first, followed by the PET scan. The actual CT scanning takes about 40 seconds. The PET scan takes 25-35 minutes.

The images will be checked by the technologist for completeness and when that is confirmed the IV will be removed and your exam will be complete.

Who will interpret the examination?

Your examination will be interpreted by a Nuclear Medicine Physician or a Radiologist, who is a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret PET/CT examinations. He/she will analyze the images and send a signed report and CD to your referring physician, who will discuss the results with you. Upon request, you can arrange a consultation with the Radiologist who interpreted your examination.