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PET/CT Diagnostic Imaging

PET-CT scanning is one of the most powerful diagnostic tools available, enabling doctors to determine the precise location of a tumour. Doctors then use this information to diagnose and stage the disease, plan your treatment, and monitor the progress of your treatment.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT) Scan

The only provider of PET/CT in the South East, UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre utilises this new, highly-advanced imaging tool to visualize a tumour prior to treatment.

PET/CT combines 2 different types of imaging into 1 procedure. PET and CT together produce a more accurate picture of what is happening in the body than either PET or CT alone. PET/CT is a very good tool for detecting cancer and how far it has spread. It can help the doctor decide on the best treatment for a patient. PET/CT also can show how the cancer is responding to treatment.

What is PET?

“PET” stands for positron emission tomography. PET creates an image (scan) of your body’s biochemical activity. PET shows the rate at which your body’s cells break down and use sugar (glucose). This activity is called metabolism.  Cancer cells metabolize sugar at a higher rate than normal cells do. A PET scan shows this abnormal cell activity. For your PET scan, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into your blood stream. This material is called a radioisotope. A PET scanner detects the radioisotope and then creates an image on the computer screen. PET exposes you to a very low level of radiation.

PET CT scans are most useful in assessing and identifying some cancers, and in diagnosing blood vessel disease and brain disorders (such as dementia).

What is CT?

“CT” is short for computed tomography. CT uses x-rays and a computer to make an image of sections of your body. A CT scan shows your body’s organs, bones, and tissues in greater detail than regular x-rays do. For your CT scan, you will receive a contrast enhancing agent by intravenous line (IV), which helps produce an even clearer image. CT exposes you to a small amount of radiation.

What does PET/CT do?

A PET image is color coded — different colors show various levels of cell activity. A CT scan shows the exact locations of the body’s organs and also can show abnormal growths. When a CT scan is laid over a PET scan, doctors can pinpoint the exact location of abnormal cell activity. They can also see the level and extent of that activity. Even when an abnormal growth is not yet visible on a CT scan, the PET scan can show the abnormal cell activity.

It takes about a second to produce each slice, which can vary in thickness from 1 millimeter to one centimeter; depending on which part of your body is being scanned it may take up to a minute.

We encourage all Diagnostic CT Patients to review the Data Protection Act and how it relates to their procedure at the following link.