PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) are both standard imaging tools that physicians use to pinpoint disease states in the body. A CT scan identifies a suspected tumor, while the PET scan confirms if the tumor is malignant and if it has spread. By combining these two technologies, physicians can more accurately diagnose and identify cancer, heart disease and brain disorders.
First, a patient is given radioactive glucose through an IV. All cells need glucose for energy; however, cancer cells use glucose faster than normal cells. a PET scan measures metabolic activity by detecting the radiation emitted when cancerous cells absorb this glucose. Three-dimensional images can then be generated by the computer showing the detected activity throughout the body.
A radiologist or physician who is specifically trained in nuclear medicine will evaluate the images. In order to ensure accuracy, Carle Cancer Institute Normal uses an additional step of having another radiologist read the scan. Two eyes are better than one.
The PET/CT program at Carle Cancer Institute Normal is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). As an accredited facility, various quality assurance measures must be performed to ensure proper functioning of the PET/CT scanner. Additionally, random scans are also reviewed by an additional radiologist sent for peer review by outside facilities. All of these quality checks must be documented to meet ACR requirements and maintain accreditation.
PET/CT is a powerful imaging technique that holds great promise in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, particularly cancer. A non-invasive test, PET/CT accurately images metabolic and anatomic information in the human body in a single scan. This allows your physician to examine your entire body at once. PET/CT provides a more complete picture, making it easier for your doctor to diagnose problems, determine the extent of disease, prescribe treatment, and track progress.
You can expect to be at the center for two to three hours. The actual scan itself takes far less time.
A PET/CT scan is painless, with no side effects. After fasting for at least four hours, you will receive an intravenous (IV) injection of a radioactive glucose. Following the injection, you will rest quietly for approximately 90 minutes, while the glucose is distributed throughout the body.
After the distribution time is complete, you will then be asked to lie on a table that slowly passes through the scanner. After the organ being studied processes the radioactive tracer and the scanner records the information, a trained radiologist interprets the images. Results are reported to your referring physician usually within 48 hours.
Medicare covers PET/CT scanning for many uses, including breast, lung, colorectal, esophageal, melanoma, lymphoma, thyroid and head and neck cancers. Most private insurers cover PET/CT scans as well. Check with your physician about your insurance coverage.
If you have any questions concerning the instructions listed here, please call (309) 451-2278 between 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.