PET / CT

What is PET/CT?

PET/CT combines two scanning techniques into one exam. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) shows different functions in the body, such as cell activity. CT (Computed Tomography) shows detailed structural anatomy.

The PET and CT images are merged to create 3D pictures that shows any abnormal cell activity/growth and location.

PET/CT is primarily used in cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment monitoring. It provides information that may help determine and guide any potential treatments.

How should I prepare for my exam?

Our Oncology Coordinator will call you before your exam to review how to prepare and answer your questions.

You can also view the preparation here (Suburban Imaging - Northwest location).

What should I bring to my appointment?
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing and avoid jewelry, zippers and snaps.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.
  • Bring your insurance card and a valid photo ID.

IMPORTANT NOTE: FDG is formulated and ordered specifically for the patient and exam requested. FDG can only be used within a short period of time, so please notify Suburban Imaging 24 hours in advance if you have to reschedule or cancel your appointment.

How long will my exam take?

Your exam will take approximately 2 hours.

What happens during the exam?

An imaging technologist will weigh you and take a blood sample to check your blood sugar level. An IV line will be placed in your arm and the technologist will inject a low-dose radiolabeled sugar called FDG. You will then sit in a special room for one hour so this special sugar has time to circulate through your body and be metabolized (or "used) by your cells and organs.

Some cells and many diseases use FDG more than others, and PET measures these differences. For this reason, after the injection of FDG you will be taken to a quiet room to relax for one hour while the FDG circulates throughout your body.

After the hour has passed, you will be brought to the scanner room and lie on a cushioned, movable table. The table will move slowly through the machine during the scan. For the best quality images, you will be asked to remain as still as possible during the exam. The PET/CT can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the information your healthcare provider requested.

What happens after my exam?

You can leave immediately after your scan. You may drive, resume your normal diet, exercise and take all prescribed medications. Your activity will not be restricted, however as an extra precaution, avoid getting close to an infants, children or pregnant women for the rest of the day due to the FDG that was injected. Be sure to drink lots of fluids to flush the remaining sugar out of your system.

Your images will be interpreted by one of our board-certified radiologists. The findings will be sent to your healthcare provider, who will then contact you to discuss the results.

For more information:

Download the PET/CT Scan Patient Preparation (Suburban Imaging – Northwest location)

Download the patient brochure

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1. PET image   2. CT image   3. PET/CT combined image

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