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PET – Positron Emission Tomography

Positron Emission Tomography is a type of nuclear medicine scan. A special radioactive material is injected into the body and is taken up by cells in the body.  After injection there is usually a wait of about an hour for the tracer to become concentrated in the tissues of interest.  It’s distribution is then analyzed and compared to a CT scan obtained at the same time.  The material that is injected is ususally a form of sugar. The uptake of this material gives the radiologists information about how cells are functioning and how quickly they are reproducing.

One of the most common uses for PET scanning is to detect cancer and to see the extent of disease.  It is an excellent means of assessing the response to treatment and is useful in evaluating nearly all malignancies.  PET scans are also useful in evauating the function of the heart and determining how much viable heart muscle is present after a heart attack.  A PET scan can also be used to evaluate brain metabolism and can be useful for diagnosing types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease or for determining the cause of seizures.

This video explains PET and what to expect when undergoing a PET procedure.

Preparation for Exam

Please contact the medical facility where exam will be performed to discuss the preparation specific to your exam. Adequate preparation for this exam is quite important.  It is vital to follow the instructions carefully in order to get the most accurate result possible.

Length of Exam

It will take approximately 45 to 60 minutes for the radiotracer to travel to the area of interest. In addition the scan time will take approximately 30 minutes.