Positron Emission Tomography:
PET/CT Scan

What is PET/CT Scan?

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging technique that holds great promise in the diagnosis and treatment of infection and many diseases, particularly cancer. A non-invasive test, PET/CT scans accurately image the metabolic function of the body. In a single PET scan, your physician can examine your entire body. PET scanning provides a more complete picture, making it easier to diagnose problems, prescribe treatment and track progress.

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Cat Scan or computed tomography) are both standard imaging tools that physicians use to pinpoint disease in the body. A PET scan demonstrates the metabolic function of the body before anatomical changes take place. While the Cat Scan provides information about the body's anatomy such as size, shape and location. Your PET scan will include a brief Cat Scan portion and also the PET imaging portion. The PET and Cat Scan images are fused together to make a combined computer image for interpretation.

What happens once I get there?

After reviewing your history and any prior exams with the staff, you will have a small amount of radioactive glucose (also known as sugar) injected into your bloodstream. For most studies, you will wait about 45 minutes for the injection to absorb into your body. During this time you will need to rest without a great deal of movement. You may be able to read, speak, or listen to music until your scan begins - and perhaps during the scan itself. However, if we'll be scanning you brain, we will ask you to wait in a quiet, dimly lit room, without stimulating your brain by reading or talking.

What will the scan be like?

You will lie on a comfortable table that moves slowly through the ring-like PET/CT scanner as it takes the images. We will ask you to lie very still, because movement can interfere with the results. You shouldn't feel a thing during the scan, which can last anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Your exam will vary depending on what we are looking for. Plan to spend two to three hours with us.

What happens after the exam?

You may leave as soon as the scan is complete. Unless you have received special instructions, you'll be able to eat and drink immediately - drinking lots of fluids will help remove any radioactivity that may still be in your system. In the meantime, we will begin preparing the results for review by our Radiologist who will send a report to your physician.

Are there risks associated with PET/CT?

A PET/CT study is similar to many other diagnostic tests like CAT Scan and MRI. Although the radiation your receive is different, it's roughly equal to what you would get from other exams such as a CAT Scan.

Radioactive glucose used in PET/CT does not remain in your system for very long, so there is no reason to avoid interacting with people once you've left. To be extra safe, wait for a few hours before getting too close to an infant, or anyone who is pregnant.

Please follow these special instructions:

  • Do not eat or drink anything more than water for 4 hours before your exam because it could interfere with the results; don't chew gum.
  • If you take medications, drink only plain water.
  • If you are diabetic, let us know ahead of time so we can work with your physician to determine the safest possible way for you to prepare for your exam.

Please let us know if you might be pregnant or are currently breast-feeding.

Talk to your doctor about any additional questions or concerns or call us at (716) 664-8211.

To schedule a PET/CT Scan, call (716) 664-8440.

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