What is a PET/CT Scan?

PET/CT is a highly effective procedure for evaluating organs and tissues for the presence of disease or other conditions.

A PET/CT scan simultaneously utilizes two technologies to create a high-resolution image of the location and strength of disease in the body.

PET (positron emission tomography) evaluates the metabolism of a particular organ or tissue, providing information about the physiology (functionality), anatomy (structure), and biochemical properties, allowing early detection of disease onset.

CT (computed tomography) generates multiple cross-sectional images, allowing doctors to view a body from the inside, visualizing small nodules or tumors which otherwise would not be seen.

During the scan, patients receive a very small amount of glucose injected into the vein of an arm.  The glucose (with radioactive tracers) travels to the disease site where it is metabolized by active disease cells.  When highlighted under the PET scanner, the tracers help your doctor see how well organs and tissues are working by measuring blood flow, metabolism, neurotransmitters, and radiolabelled drugs.

In oncology, a PET/CT scan provides information on the degree of tumor malignancy that no other imaging modality can deliver.  It provides vital information for diagnosing cancer early and determining how cancer is responding to treatment.

Time-lapsed Coronal (frontal) view demonstrating a PET scan (left), CT scan (middle) and PET/CT fusion (right)