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PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography)

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a very powerful imaging medical device. It allows the physician to detect cancer, heart disease and brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. This new imaging technology merges PET and computed tomography (CT) into one combined scanning system. The anatomical pictures produced by the CT scanner can be merged with the molecular images from PET to produce a more accurate test.  

What are the Advantages?

Research has shown that PET/CT can effectively pinpoint the source of many of the most common cancers. Whole-body PET inspects all organ systems of the body to search for the cancer in a single examination. If cancer has spread, PET will expose it. Follow-up scans will reveal if cancer has recurred.

Also, PET/CT can give physicians important early information about cardiac and neurological diseases, streamlining testing and decreasing the need for invasive biopsies. Because PET/CT scans provide images of the body’s chemistry, many diseases can be seen in their earliest stages.

PET/CT Benefits

  • Earlier diagnosis
  • Monitors effects of therapy
  • Can eliminate invasive procedures
  • Replaces multiple tests
  • Serves as a pre-surgical assessment
  • Reduces or eliminates unnecessary surgical or medical treatments
  • Identifies distant tumor Can tell the difference between scar tissue and tumor recurrence

Technology Updates

  • PET/CT (in-house scanner at JCMC)
  • Mobile PET/CT (IPMC, JMH, NCH)

The Procedure

A nurse or technologist will take the patient into a special injection room, where the radioactive substance is administered intravenously. It will then take approximately 60 to 90 minutes for the substance to travel through the body and accumulate in the tissue under study. During this time, you will be asked to rest quietly and avoid significant movement or talking, which may alter the localization of the administered substance. After that time, scanning begins. The scan  may take 30 to 45 minutes.

Usually, there are no restrictions on daily routines after the test, although you should drink plenty of fluids to flush the radioactive substance from your body.