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Allen Hospital

Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography Imaging (PET/CT)

What is a PET/CT Scan?

A PET scan can detect changes in cellular function, specifically how your cells are utilizing nutrients like sugar and oxygen. Since these functions take place before physical changes occur, PET can provide information that enables your provider to make an early diagnosis. A CT scan takes cross-sectional images of your body. Combined with the PET scan, they can provide anatomic details of the metabolic changes in your body.

When these two scans are fused together, a PET/CT Scan can allow your provider to view metabolic changes in the proper anatomical context of your body. 

Why do I need a PET/CT scan?

This scan not only helps your provider diagnose a problem, but it can help predict likely outcomes of various therapeutic alternatives, pinpoint the best approach to treatment, and monitor your progress.  Speak with your provider about what they hope to learn from your PET/CT scan.

How do I prepare for my PET/CT scan?

Your provider will give you specific instructions including diet restrictions and clothing instructions prior to your scan. Please contact them for any questions or clarifications.

What should I expect?

For the PET portion of the exam, you will receive an injection of radioactive material similar to what is used for bone scans. This will lose it's radioactivity very quickly and only a very small amount is injected. In all cases, the majority of radioactivity will be eliminated from your body approximately 6 hours after injection. After your injection, you will be asked to wait for 1 hour. 

During the exam, you will lie very still on a comfortable table as it moves slowly through the scanner so that it can acquire the information needed to generate diagnostic images. 

Safety of the PET/CT exam?

The PET/CT exam is a safe and effective diagnostic procedure. The radiopharmaceuticals used in PET do not stay in your system long, so you can interact with others once you are finished. For additional safety, please wait a few hours before getting too close to an infant or anyone who is pregnant. 

To learn more about PET/CT scans, please contact (319) 235-3941.