Houston Northwest Medical Center offers patients PET/CT (positron emission tomography and computed tomography) combined scanning designed to offer a more complete picture of the location of a tumor and its growth or spread than either test alone.
Common Uses for PET/CT
What to Expect During a PET/CT
During the study, the CT scan is completed first, followed by the PET scan. A CT scanner takes a series of X-ray pictures that are combined via computer to create a very detailed image of the internal organs or other parts of the body. A CT scan can show important anatomical data, such as the size, shape or location of a tumor. A PET scan, on the other hand, shows biological data about a tumor, such as its growth rate, as well as blood flow, oxygen use and sugar metabolism. This information helps doctors evaluate the function of the organs and tissues being studied.
Before the scan, a radioactive material is administered via an intravenous (IV) injection. The radioactive materials will accumulate in the organ or area of the body that is being examined.
Patients then are positioned on an examination table that slides into the center of the scanning machine. The exam is painless, but patients must remain perfectly still during the test and may feel some discomfort when the IV line is inserted.
The PET scanner detects signals from the radioactive tracer as it travels through the body and is eventually used by various organs. Although tissues in the body normally process this tracer, diseased cells will process this tracer more rapidly than healthy body tissues. It is this increase that is captured by the PET scan and determines if there are any areas of concern.
After your PET scan, the images are interpreted by a trained radiologist. Results are reported to your referring physician.
Click here for more information to help prepare for a PET/CT study.