PET is a highly advanced, non-invasive diagnostic test that is changing the way physicians diagnose and treat diseases - and can change the way your doctors manage your care. PET imaging technology can detect cancer throughout your body, often earlier than any other diagnostic tool. It's very effective in revealing areas of damaged heart muscle resulting from reduced blood supply. It's the only test that can identify many kinds of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, long before symptoms occur. And, when combined with the information from a CT scan, PET's diagnostic power is even further enhanced.
A PET scan works by measuring your body's metabolic activity - the way cells take up glucose, which is the sugar they use for fuel. It provides visual information at the molecular level about how the body's tissues are functioning. Cancer cells "light up" on a PET scan because they metabolize sugar more actively than normal cells. In cardiovascular and neurological diseases, PET images indicate problems by showing areas with increased, diminished or no metabolic activity.
Advantages of PET/CT
In many situations, the state of the art in medical imaging is the combination of a PET scan with a CT scan. The CT scan provides excellent visual detail about the anatomy. The PET scan offers superior visual information about cellular activity. When fused together, the two create a comprehensive picture that helps physicians diagnose and locate disease with great precision. Today your doctors have many excellent treatments to combat disease; PET and PET/CT are extraordinarily powerful tools to help them decide which treatments are best for you.
The PET Procedure
A PET scan is non-invasive and painless. It begins with a simple injection of a radioisotope that is similar to sugar. You will be asked to rest quietly for about 60 minutes while the tracer circulates throughout your body. Then you will be positioned on the scanning bed, and the scan itself will be performed. Although it is necessary that you remain as still as possible while the scan is in progress, you will not experience any discomfort and can relax during the scan. Imaging times vary, but usually take less than an hour. After the procedure, you can resume your normal activities