What is PET/CT?
PET: Positron Emission Tomography is a form of diagnostic imaging designed to interpret the metabolism and function of cell. PET uses a small amount of radioactive substance injected into the blood stream. Images are then acquired to evaluate function of the cells within the body.
CT: Computerized tomography produces detailed pictures of the body’s internal organs and structures. CT scanners send x-rays through the body at different angles. These x-rays are then measured by surrounding detectors, and an anatomical image is produced.
PET/CT Fusion: Integrates PET and CT technologies into a single device, making it possible to obtain both anatomical and biological data during a single exam. This integrated approach permits accurate tumor detection.
PET/CT is used primarily to detect cancer. The radioactive injection is absorbed by cancerous tissues.
PET/CT scans can be used to evaluate patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, seizure disorders, and brain tumors.
Scans of the heart can be used to determine blood flow to the heart muscle and help evaluate signs of coronary heart disease. Patients are also scanned for cardiac viability prior to bypass surgery. Patients with sarcoidosis are scanned to evaluate the extent of their disease.
Other scans performed include
C-11 Choline for prostate cancer and GA-68 DOTA for neuroendocrine tumors.
We have two American College of Radiology (ACR) accredited Siemens Biograph 16-slice PET/CT scanners. We have the ability to incorporate our PET/CT images for Radiation Therapy CT simulation purposes and reduce the radiation exposure to our cancer patients.
The scanner features a large gantry opening and short tunnel in an aesthetically pleasing room. The weight limit is 500 lbs.
All technologists are required to be board certified by the American Registry for Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) for Radiography and Nuclear Medicine. Most of our technologists are dually certified by the ARRT and the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB).
Location and hours of service:
Basement of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center
Hours of operation: 6:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday
- Patients must not eat or drink anything for four hours prior to the exam.
- Exclude foods high in sugar and carbohydrates from your diet the day before and the day of the scan.
- Take all medication except fluid pills.
- Bring a list of current medications.
- Avoid wearing metal jewelry, metal zippers, or metal buttons.
- Do not bring children or pregnant women to the appointment.
- Take all oral diabetic medication as prescribed prior to the scan.
- Do not take insulin four hours prior to exam.
- Avoid physical therapy, physical activity, and anything strenuous prior to the exam.
- Cardiac patients will receive a separate prep specialized to their specific exams.
The amount of the radionuclide injected into the patient for the procedure is very small, and there is no need for precautions against radiation exposure. Allergic reactions to the radionuclide are rare, but may happen. Tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic or sensitive to medicines, contrast dyes, iodine, or latex.
What to expect:
Before the PET/CT exam, a blood glucose check is performed, and a radioactive tracer is injected through an IV. After the injection, the patient will rest comfortably for a circulation period. At this time, the patient will drink flavored gelatin water to coat the stomach and bowel for the CT portion of the scan. The patient will be asked to empty his or her bladder prior to the scan. The entire body (skull base to thigh) is typically scanned to obtain comprehensive evaluation of metabolic activity. A CT scan and a PET scan are performed. During the CT portion of the exam, the patient will receive a contrast dye injected through an IV. Typically there are no breathing instructions for the patient. The patient will lie on his or her back with a cushion under the knees and a cushion under the head; the arms will be above the head for the scan. The scan process takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
After the exam:
The patient can return to regular activity and diet after the exam. The patient will be instructed to drink plenty of fluids for 24-48 hours after the exam. This will help flush the radioactive material and the contrast dye from the body. The PET/CT scan is interpreted by a highly trained radiologist. Results are reported to the referring physician electronically.