PET/CT combines two radiology technologies into a single device, making it possible for doctors to collect two kinds of information at the same time.
- PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography. This is a type of nuclear medicine test that allows radiologists to see how different cells in the human body are working. For instance, normal cells work differently than diseased cells.
- CT stands for Computed Tomography. This test shows radiologists very high detail of the body's anatomy.
Before having a PET/CT scan, patients receive a dose of a "tracer," which mimics substances found naturally in the body. Diseased cells use "tracers" differently than normal cells. During the scan, the tracers are detected by the PET/CT system, creating an image of the patient and highlighting any abnormal tissue.
This image helps physicians determine:
- The presence of disease.
- The location and extent of the disease.
- How rapidly the disease is spreading.
- Whether treatment is working.
What are the specific benefits of PET/CT?
- The information obtained from these types of exams is different and often can't be obtained with other imaging tests.
- Potential for earlier detection of a problem or disease.
- Painless procedure and may minimize the need for further, more invasive testing.
- Effective tracking of the response to treatment of a problem.
- Greater accuracy in staging cancer and more precise treatment planning.
- Short imaging time (usually less than 30 minutes).