Positron Emission Tomography

At Northern Arizona Radiology we proudly offer a highly sophisticated hybrid PET/CT scanner for our patients.

 Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) has been assimilated as one of the most important diagnostic modalities in cancer imaging.

What is PET/CT

Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine exam which incorporates the benefits of computerized tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine to produce 3D images of the body’s organs and tissues.

Images are used to evaluate and treat a variety of diseases. PET scans are used most often to detect cancer in the body and to examine the effects of a cancer therapy. PET scans of only the brain can be used to evaluate patients who have memory or seizure disorders.

What is PET/CT

Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine exam which incorporates the benefits of computerized tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine to produce 3D images of the body’s organs and tissues.

Images are used to evaluate and treat a variety of diseases. PET scans are used most often to detect cancer in the body and to examine the effects of a cancer therapy. PET scans of only the brain can be used to evaluate patients who have memory or seizure disorders.

How does it work?

PET imaging acquires images based on the detection of radiation emitted from a radioactive substance administered to the patient.  The radioactive substance is attached, or tagged, to a natural body compound, most commonly glucose. Once this substance is administered to the patient via a small butterfly needle or intravenous catheter, the radioactivity localizes in the appropriate areas of the body and is detected by the PET scanner. 

Different colors or degrees of brightness on a PET/CT image represent different levels of tissue or organ function which may be indicative of specific diseases.

How does it work?

PET imaging acquires images based on the detection of radiation emitted from a radioactive substance administered to the patient.  The radioactive substance is attached, or tagged, to a natural body compound, most commonly glucose. Once this substance is administered to the patient via a small butterfly needle or intravenous catheter, the radioactivity localizes in the appropriate areas of the body and is detected by the PET scanner. 

Different colors or degrees of brightness on a PET/CT image represent different levels of tissue or organ function which may be indicative of specific diseases.

How is the procedure performed?

A technologist will take you into a special injection room. In this room, a blood glucose will be drawn and a radioactive substance will be administered through the vein. The wait time pre-scan for most PET scans are approximately 30 to 60 minutes with few exceptions. During this time, you will be asked to rest quietly and avoid significant movement or talking. After that time scanning will begin. This may take 15 to 45 minutes.

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

How is the procedure performed?

A technologist will take you into a special injection room. In this room, a blood glucose will be drawn and a radioactive substance will be administered through the vein. The wait time pre-scan for most PET scans are approximately 30 to 60 minutes with few exceptions. During this time, you will be asked to rest quietly and avoid significant movement or talking. After that time scanning will begin. This may take 15 to 45 minutes.

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

What are some common uses of PET?

What are some common uses of PET?

How should I prepare for a PET/CT exam?

PET is usually done on an outpatient basis. You should:

Patient prep PET CT Scans

Fast for 4 hours prior to the exam (water is ok). Significant exercise should be avoided for at least 24 hours prior to the exam (running, jogging, sports, aerobics, weight lifting etc.). Since the imaging room can be cold, please wear warm, comfortable clothes. Leave all jewelry at home.
There is no prep for this exam. Since the imaging room can be cold, please wear warm, comfortable clothes.
There is no prep for this exam. Since the imaging room can be cold, please wear warm, comfortable clothes.
Fast for 6 hours prior to the exam. Water is ok. Limit carbohydrate and sugar consumption for 24 hours prior to the exam. Try to eat meals high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Diabetic Patients – Try to schedule your appointment when your blood sugar is lowest. Morning appointments are often the best time. You may take ½ to ¾ dose of Long Acting Insulin in the morning. Please do not take any normal or fast acting insulin prior to your appointment. Since the imaging room can be cold, please wear warm, comfortable clothes.
Fast for 6 hours prior to the exam. Water is ok. Limit carbohydrate and sugar consumption for 24 hours prior to the exam. Try to eat meals high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Limit strenuous exercise for 24 hours prior to the exam. Diabetic Patients – Try to schedule your appointment when your blood sugar is lowest. Morning appointments are often the best time. You may take ½ to ¾ dose of Long Acting Insulin in the morning. Please do not take any normal or fast acting insulin prior to your appointment. Since the imaging room can be cold, please wear warm, comfortable clothes. Leave all jewelry at home.

Do you have any questions?

We understand that people looking for various exams may have a lot of questions, please do not hesitate to contact us so that we can walk with you during this trying time.