What is PET/CT?

PET/CT is the abbreviation for a medical imaging procedure that combines Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computed Tomography (CT). Combing these procedures offers the most detailed and insightful view into various medical conditions.

PET/CT effectively identifies many of the most common cancers as well as heart and nerve diseases by providing information about your body’s chemistry and glucose information. Cancer cells grow rapidly and use glucose as their source of energy. The CT is used to improve the PET images and may add additional anatomic information.

PET/CT has revolutionized the field of medical imaging, diagnosis, treatment, patient care, and patient outcomes. Surgical planning, radiation therapy and cancer staging are changing rapidly with the influence of the PET/CT.

Why do I need a PET/CT Scan?

PET/CT scans are particularly useful in diagnosing and assessing cancers of the breast, colon/rectum, head/neck, esophagus, lungs, skin, ovaries, pancreas, muscles and bones. PET/CT scans are also useful for heart patients, those with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and for stroke and epilepsy patients.

What to Expect During your PET/CT

After you check in for your exam, the staff will review your medical history and check your blood sugar level with a drop of blood from your fingertip. The staff will then insert an I.V. needle in your arm or hand to deliver the FDG. The FDG has no known side effects and will be eliminated from your body when you urinate. Patients are routinely asked to drink an oral contrast solution for the CT portion of the exam; it takes 45 to 60 minutes for the FDG to spread through your body’s tissues. You will be instructed to rest quietly during this period. You will be asked to urinate immediately before the scan. For some, a catheter may be required to empty the bladder.


When the scan begins, you will lie on a cushioned table attached to the scanner. Once you are comfortable and positioned correctly, the technologist will reposition the table into the opening of the scanner. The technologist will acquire a series of images of your body; usually from your head to your thighs. The PET /CT unit has spacious, well-lit openings at both ends, and the scan is painless. To avoid blurred images, it is essential you remain relaxed and as still as possible throughout the entire procedure.


The imaging portion of the exam usually takes less than 60 minutes. The technologist will return to a separate control room during the scan, but will be within voice and visual contact. The technologist will keep you updated on the scan process.

The Day of your Exam

Do not eat, drink or chew gum for six hours before your exam. You may drink water and take your medication. If you are diabetic, please eat a light, low-carb breakfast and take your insulin.


Wear comfortable clothing. Your exam may require you to change into a hospital gown. If possible, leave all jewelry, etc. at home.

You should plan to be at the hospital for your exam for approximately two to three hours. Please arrive promptly for your appointment. Due to the short half-life of the
FDG, patients arriving late may have to reschedule. Please remember to bring the following IMPORTANT items. If you do not have them with you when you arrive, you may need to reschedule your exam:

  • Insurance card(s) and any referral/ authorization forms
  • Picture identification
  • Prescription/order for the test from your doctor
  • Film taken at an earlier date or another facility that may pertain to your condition

If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call us at 1-877-MYTEST9 at least 24 hours in advance.

Your PET/CT Scan Results

DMC’s board-certified radiologists will interpret your PET/CT scan and send the results to your physician, usually within 24 hours.



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