About PET/CT at Riverview Medical Center

What is PET/CT?

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) are standard imaging tools physicians use to pinpoint disease in the body. Alone, each test has limitations, but combined the PET/CT provides the most complete information on cancer location and metabolic activity. PET/CT scans produce three-dimensional images showing detail of the function and structure of tissues and organs in the body using a small amount of radioactive material. The PET scan looks at the biological function of the body while the CT scan provides information such as size, shape and location.

Why has my physician recommended a PET/CT?

PET ACR Seal (2)PET/CT scans allow your physician to examine your entire body at once, providing a more complete picture. Using the two scans physicians can more accurately diagnose and make treatment recommendations for conditions and diseases such as cancer, heart disease and brain disorder.

PET/CT is especially useful in conjunction with CyberKnife treatment of cancer because it uses fiducial marks placed in the patient’s body before acquiring the PET/CT images. The slices acquired are transferred digitally to a linear accelerator which allows for more precise targeting using high energy protons (radiosurgery).

Common uses of the PET/CT in different fields:

  • Oncology: to determine between benign and malignant tumors in suspicious areas, identify if cancer has spread to other parts of the body, monitor successful therapies, detect recurrent tumors, and assess tumor aggressiveness.
  • Cardiology: to determine what heart tissue is still alive following a suspected heart attack or to predict the success of an angioplasty (balloon) or bypass surgery.
  • Neurology: for dementia to detect signs of Alzheimer’s, for epilepsy to determine the precise location for surgery, and in Parkinson’s Disease to assist physicians in the diagnosis of movement disorders.

PET/CT is also used to:

  • Assist in staging
  • Accurately guide biopsies
  • Monitor response to treatment
  • Target radiation therapy
  • Detect early recurrences
  • Characterize Pulmonary Nodules
  • Assist in early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease

During the Scan

Prior to your scan you will receive an intravenous injection of a minimal amount of radioactive tracer which takes approximately 45-60 minutes to move through your body. During this time you will be asked to rest in a comfortable chair or bed. Once the tracer has been distributed you will be asked to lie on a table that will pass slowly through the scanner.

The CT portion of the scan will be completed first, during which time you may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds; your technologist will communicate this to you if this is needed. During the scan it is important that you do not move. The length of the exam depends on your height and the clinical area that your physician is examining. On average PET/CT scans are completed within 45-60 minutes.

Preparing for your PET/CT

  • Avoid strenuous activity 24 hours prior to your exam
  • Do not eat 4-6 hours before your exam, you may have water
  • Wear comfortable clothing, you may be asked to change into a gown for the exam
  • If you are taking any medications consult with your physician for instruction, most medications may be continued being used the day of the exam
  • Notify your physician if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or diabetic

After the Exam

Once the total scan has been performed you may resume normal daily activity. Even though the FDG will quickly leave your body, you can expedite the process by drinking plenty of water. The reading physician will contact your doctor to convey all pertinent information gathered from the scan. Please call your physician for the results.

Care Locations

  • Riverview Medical Center, 1 Riverview Plaza, Red Bank, NJ 07701

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