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PET-CT is mostly important for diagnosing cancers and assessing their spread through the body. PET scan also includes checking brain function, heart problems, and brain disorders, examining blood flow to the heart and determining spread of cancer and response to therapy. The use of PET scans helps doctors to detect the presence and location of cancer cells accurately and it also detects live cancer cells. This will allow your doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment for you and advise you on your options.
PET CT scan malignant cells (cancer) takes high amount of tracer injected in PET scan, which appears as bright spot in PET CT imaging.
Doctor’s will referred the patient for PET CT scan for:
• Detecting the cancer
• Early diagnosis of cancer
• To see whether cancer has spread to other places
• Project whether the present cancer treatment is working
• To see if the cancer has recurred
• Also to rule out presence of any cancer tissue
Any types of solid tumors do appear on PET scans, including:
• Brain cancer
• Cervical cancer
• Colorectal cancer
• Esophageal cancer
• Head and neck cancer
• Lung cancer
• Pancreatic cancer
• Liver cancer
• Renal cancer
• Bladder cancer
• Carcinoma ovary
• Endometrial cancer
PET scan reveals with the part of the heart muscle is viable or non-viable due to decreased blood flow to the region. This is your dictating cardiologist or cardiothoracic surgeon to decide whether you might benefit from a neoplastic or coronary artery bypass surgery.
PET scan is useful to evaluate brain lesions are as other than cancers like dementia, seizures, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism disease
Women who are breast-feeding and people who are the primary or sole carer for small children may need to make special preparations for after the test, to stop breast-feeding for a short time and to avoid close contact with young children. This is due to the small amount of radioactivity your body may release for a while after the test. Talk to your referring doctor or the nuclear medicine facility where you will have the test.
- Take with you to your appointment any previous X-ray or radiology images you have, as comparison with these by the nuclear medicine physician (a specialist doctor), who looks at and interprets your PET scan, can be very helpful.
- You will be asked to not eat anything for several hours before the PET scan
- You can drink water as it’ll keep you hydrated.
- If you have diabetes, you will be provided with specific instructions and may need to stop taking some diabetes medications before having the scan.
- It is important that you are not wering metal, including jewellery, watches, zips and bra hooks, as these can affect the quality of the images produced.
A small needle will be inserted into a vein, usually in your arm or the back of your hand, to fit an intravenous line/a thin plastic tube, through which the liquid radioactive tracer is injected. Your blood sugar level will be checked, as high or low blood sugar levels can alter the appearance of the scan, after which the radioactive tracer is injected into your vein.
You will be asked to rest quietly in an arm-chair, avoiding any kind of movement for 90 minutes. You may be asked to drink some contrast material that moves through your stomach and bowel that helps in improving the quality of the image.
You will then be moved onto PET scanning bed where you’ll have to remain as still as possible as any kind of movement might lead to reduced quality of the image. You may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds. You’ll hear buzzing and clicking noises during the test. If you are uncomfortable after being positioned on the bed, please tell the nurse or technologist.
If you are having a PET-CT, the CT scan is done first and takes less than 2 minutes. The PET scan takes approximately 15–20 minutes, but the time will vary depending on the areas of your body being scanned.
You are advised to drink plenty of fluids after the test is finished. This will flush the radioactive substance out of the body through the kidneys and into the bladder.
If undergoing a combination PET-CT scan, the iodine-based contrast dye used for the CT component can cause side effects which includes – nausea, vomiting, headache, itching, flushing, and mild rash, in such cases call the doctor immediately. In rare cases there might be all-body allergy which is called anaphylaxis.
It is important for the doctor to know if you’re allergic to iodine or have had a bad reaction in the past to a contrast dye used for a CT or X-ray study. Except if you took a Valium in advance of the procedure, you need to be driven by someone else otherwise, you can drive by yourself after the scan.
You will not be radioactive to anyone who touches, kisses, or stands close to you. There is no recovery time, and you can return to your normal diet and routine unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Nuclear medicine doctor who is the incharge will interpret the images and explain the status and also forward the reports to your referring doctor, who will provide with the results. Duration to provide the reports will vary depending upon the emergency and complexity of the test done. Please feel free to ask the front desk, when the written report will be provided to your doctor.