PET/CT Scan
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What is PET/CT Scan?

PET/CT scan is a type of imaging test that combines positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) techniques. Combined PET/CT scans can be performed on any part of the body. They are frequently used to gather information about the heart, brain, and lungs.

PET scans use a radioactive form of sugar (or other molecules) to measure the cellular activity of the body part being scanned. A CT scan takes a large number of x-rays. These are analyzed by a computer to create a three-dimensional image of the body part being studied. When both tests are performed at the same time, the information about function and structure is integrated through computer models.

PET Scan of the Brain
PET Scan of the Brain
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Because combined PET/CT scans provide a combination of information about the function and structure of a body part, they are very useful for the early diagnosis of cancer. Not only can the presence of an abnormal tumor be noted, but the function of the cells that make up the tumor can be analyzed. This can help to differentiate between benign growths (not cancer) and malignant growths (cancer). PET/CT is also used in re-staging previously diagnosed cancer.

Each of these tests has its own limitations. When combined, they provide very precise information on cancer location and activity. In the past, both of the tests had to be done separately, making the interpretation of results more difficult due to changes in the patient’s body position. However, with the availability of scanners...

Possible Complications

Some possible complications with this test include:

  • Allergic reactions to the chemicals used
  • Kidney damage

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of allergic reaction, including flushing, hives , and itching
  • Swollen or itchy eyes
  • Difficulty breathing or a feeling of tightness in your throat
  • Nausea
  • Less urine than normal

In case of an emergency, CALL 911.

 
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