What is PET and PET/CT?

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a type of nuclear medicine procedure that produces unique images of the body. The test involves injecting a very small dose of a radioactive substance into the blood. This tracer travels through the body and is absorbed by the organs and tissues being studied. You will then lie down in a machine that looks very similar to a CT machine. In fact, our PET scanner has a CT scanner built in: a PET/CT scanner. This machine detects and records the energy given off by the injected radioactive substance. It also produces CT images simultaneously. The unique nature of the images that come from combining the PET scans with the CT scans allows the radiologist to give your provider combined information about the structure and function of your body. These combined pictures can also be looked at in three dimensions or as "slices."

PET Scan vs. CT or MRI Scan

PET, CT and MRI each scan the body differently and provide different information to your providers. PET and CT images can be combined in our PET/CT scanners. Your doctor in collaboration with Guthrie radiologists and technologists will decide which type of scan is most appropriate for your health care problem. PET scans are useful because they can tell the functioning of an organ or tissue. For some problems and circumstances PET is best, while for others, PET/CT, CT or MRI is better. Sometimes you may need more than one study.

Learn more about PET/CT here.

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Medical Imaging Radiation