petct-imagePET/CT scans are tests that are used primarily to detect cancer. They can also be used to understand neurological problems, such as dementia and seizure disorders, and to determine heart problems. The scans are done at the Center for Advanced Imaging.

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans use a small amount of a radioactive substance that is injected into the blood stream. This substance shows up in the PET scan, and the images produced from the scan are then used to evaluate the function of cells within the body.

CT (Computerized Tomography) scans send x-rays through the body at different angles. The x-rays are then measured by surrounding detectors, and a detailed picture of the body’s internal organs and structures is produced.

PET/CT fusion is performed here at WVU. This testing procedure combines both PET and CT information into one scanning device and one complete exam. The highly sensitive PET scan detects the metabolic signal of actively growing cancer cells in the body and the CT scan provides a detailed picture of the internal anatomy that reveals the location, size, and shape of abnormal cancerous growths.

For additional information or questions, call the PET/CT Center at 304-293-1884.


Preparing for a PET/CT Scan

  1. Eat a protein-based diet for at least 8 hours prior to your exam, excluding foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.
  2. Don’t eat or drink 4 hours before the exam.
  3. Take all medications EXCEPT fluid pills.
  4. Bring list of medications.
  5. Avoid wearing all types of metal.
  6. Do not bring children or pregnant women.
  7. Take diabetic medications as prescribed prior to the PET/CT scan.
  8. It will take approximately 3 hours to complete the procedure.
  9. Avoid strenuous exercise the day before and the day of the scan.

*Instructions will also be sent out to patients prior to the scan.
*Neurology and Cardiac patients will have a different set of pre-scan instructions supplied by the PET/CT facility staff.

What to expect when you arrive

When you arrive for your PET/CT scan, you will be asked to update your patient information. Before the PET/CT exam itself, we will do a blood glucose check and provide for intravenous access. This access is necessary for the injection of the radioactive tracer and for intravenous CT contrast, if indicated.

After injection, the patient rests comfortably for a circulation period. During this time, flavored gelatin water is ingested to coat the stomach and bowel for the CT portion of the scan. The whole body is typically imaged so we can have a comprehensive evaluation of metabolic activity. This process takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

We are experienced with all types of patients and we can adapt to all patient conditions. The scanner features a large opening and short tunnel placed in a pleasant room.

Interpretation of PET/CT scans

Your PET/CT scan is interpreted by a trained, specialized physician. Results are reported to the referring physician through several written and electronic methods, including a HIPPA-compliant, web-based application used to transport the diagnostic images and reports world-wide.