What is PET/CT?

PET stands for Positron Emission Technology. PET uses a radioactive type of sugar to produce pictures of the function and metabolism of cells in the body. The CT scan, on the other hand, uses X-rays to make a 3-D image of the structure and anatomy of the body.

To help physicians make a more accurate diagnosis, the PET/CT combines both a picture of function (PET), a picture of anatomy (CT) to produce a merged picture.

What to Expect During a PET/CT Scan

The length of the exam is determined by your height and area of interest. Most PET/CT scans are completed within 20 to 40 minutes.

  • Before the scan, you will be injected with a radioactive tracer.
  • You will then rest for approximately thirty to forty-five minutes while the radioactive compound distributes throughout your body, and is processed by the organs being evaluated.
  • You will lie on the scanner table, and slowly pass through the scanner.
  • The CT portion of the exam is completed first, followed by the PET portion.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds while the CT scan is performed.
  • It is important that you don’t move for the duration of the scan.

Preparing for a PET/CT Scan

  • Consult your physician prior if you are pregnant, diabetic, unsure about medications or if you’ve had recent radiation therapy.
  • Depending on the type of study you may be asked not to eat or drink anything four to six hours before the exam.
  • If you are a diabetic, please notify us when scheduling your PET exam.
  • Take prescribed medication on the day of the exam unless instructed otherwise.