PET/CT is a diagnostic technique that incorporates a PET image (Positron Emission Tomography) and a low-energy CT image (Computed Tomography) in a single machine. The two techniques provide different types of information about the human body.
The PET scan uses radioactive glucose that is injected into the body to measure the metabolic activity of the tissue. Tumour cells take up much more glucose than healthy cells. The CT scan produces anatomical pictures.
The technique is used to study different types of diseases, particularly cancer. The results of the examination provide important information that makes it easier for doctors to diagnose problems, determine the extent of disease, plan treatment, and track progress.
Although your doctor orders the study, it is the nuclear medicine specialists and radiologists who actually interpret the PET/CT scan. Both are experts in diagnostic imaging. These doctors are aided by skilled technicians trained in the use of medical imaging equipment.
You should expect to be in the PET/CT Unit for a total of one to two hours. After being injected with a contrast material, most of the time (about 45 minutes) is spent resting quietly in a comfortable booth while the material is distributed throughout the body.
We’ll contact you the day before to confirm the time of your appointment. Come as relaxed as possible. Have somebody drive you to the appointment rather than walking to avoid any effort that might affect the outcome of the study.
Do not eat for at least four to six hours before your scan. Refrain from strenuous physical activity for 24 hours before your scan.
Go directly to the PET/CT Unit located at the rear of the main building. You’ll find a separate entrance. At Reception they will sign you into the system and ask you to sign a consent form stating that you understand and agree to the procedure.
In the injection room you will be set up with and IV needle to introduce the 18F-FDG tracer. At the same time you will be asked to drink an oral contrast solution which enables the CT images to be visualised. You’ll rest quietly for about 45-50 minutes while the solution spreads through your body. You’ll then be taken to the Scanning Room, where a series of images will be taken for about 15-25 minutes.
Once the scan is finished and the quality of the images has been confirmed, you can go home. Resume regular diet, keeping in mind the following recommendations: Drink a litre of water the rest of the day to help flush the contrast material out of your body. Restrict contact with young children or pregnant women for 8 hours after the tests.
Side effects from this scan are rare owing to the small amounts of radiation the patient is exposed to during the tests.