This new generation of PET/CT is a fusion of the high-speed, high-resolution capabilities of a 16-slice CT scanner with the metabolic and physiologic capabilities of the latest in PET technology. This fusion enables more accurate identification and diagnosis of cancer, single pulmonary lung nodules and some brain disorders than is achievable with older generation PET-only scanners.
What is Positron Emission Tomography?
Positron emission tomography, also called a PET scan, is a nuclear medicine exam that produces a three dimensional image of functional processes in the body. A PET scan uses a small amount of a radioactive drug to show differences between healthy and diseased tissue. The diagnostic images produced by PET are used to evaluate a variety of diseases.
What to Expect
Except for intravenous injections, most nuclear medicine procedures are painless and are rarely associated with significant discomfort or side effects.
When the radiotracer is given intravenously, you will feel a slight pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein for the intravenous line. When the radioactive material is injected into your arm, you may feel a cold sensation moving up your arm, but there are generally no other side effects. When swallowed, the radiotracer has little or no taste.
Through the natural process of radioactive decay, the small amount of radiotracer in your body will lose its radioactivity over time. It may also pass out of your body through your urine or stool during the first few hours or days following the test. You should also drink plenty of water to help flush the radioactive material out of your body as instructed by the nuclear medicine personnel.
What are some common uses of PET?
- to detect cancer
- diagnosing single pulmonary lung nodule
- to evaluate the brain for:
- memory disorders
- brain tumors
- seizure disorders
How should I prepare for this procedure?
PET is usually done on an outpatient basis. You should:
- wear comfortable clothes
- not eat for four to six hours before your scan
- drink plenty of water
- consult with your doctor regarding the use of medications before the test
What should I expect from this procedure?
- You will receive an intravenous (IV) injections of a radioactive substance.
- The radioactive substance will then take approximately 30 to 90 minutes to travel through your body and be absorbed by the tissue. 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.
- You will be positioned on the PET scanner table and be asked to lie still during your exam.
- Scanning takes 30 to 45 minutes.
- Usually, there are no restrictions on daily routine after the test. You should drink plenty of fluids to flush the radioactive substance from your body.
What will I experience during the procedure?
- If given an intravenous injection, you will feel like a slight prick. However, you will not feel the substance in your body.
- You will be made as comfortable as possible on the exam table before you are positioned in the PET scanner for the test.
- You will hear buzzing or clicking sounds during the exam.
- Patients who are claustrophobic may feel some anxiety while positioned in the scanner.
- Some patients find it uncomfortable to hold still in one position for more than a few minutes.
For more information on this topic, please visit www.Radiologyinfo.org.