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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.

When these two types of scanning are combined, it is called fusion imaging. This technology allows the radiologist to see how the body is working and, if there are any problems, helps pinpoint where in the body the problem is occurring.

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).

Brochure for Patients

Download our brochure "What you should know about PET/CT." (PDF)


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