Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerized Tomography (CT) are imaging tools that allow clinicians to pinpoint disease within the body in order to make treatment recommendations. The highly sensitive PET scan picks up metabolic signals while the CT scan provides a detailed picture of the internal anatomy that reveals the size and shape of abnormalities. Alone each test has limitations; the combined PET/CT provides the most complete information available on location of disease and metabolic activity.

PET/CT scan is a useful addition to the physician’s diagnostic resources for detecting certain types of cancer and conditions of the heart and brain. It can reveal disease that traditional imaging techniques cannot distinguish.

PET/CT procedures performed by our experienced staff:

PET/CT Imaging

What is PET/CT Imaging?

PET/CT stands for Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography and is a combined non-invasive, diagnostic imaging technique that produces pictures of the human body’s biological functions and superimposes it on CT scan of the body.

Why is this exam done?

PET/CT scans measures important aspects of normal and abnormal bodily functions including sugar usage, oxygen consumption, and blood flow. The most common reasons for getting a PET/CT scan include: looking for cancer, evaluating spread of cancer, determining blood flow to the heart, and evaluation of memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease. PET is also used to monitor response to medical treatment, gauge progression or regression of disease, and for preoperative evaluation. PET/CT can often detect certain diseases earlier than other methods.

What will happen during the exam?

A PET/CT scan creates stunning images but is a relatively simple procedure. First, you will be injected with a small amount of tracer which can be detected by the PET machine (this is most commonly labeled glucose sugar) and asked to rest while the radioactive compound is distributed throughout your body. The glucose is attracted to cells with increased metabolism, such as cancer cells. Next, the examining table on which you are resting passes through the PET scanner. A PET camera will scan your body and record the signals the tracers emit as they collect in the organs targeted for examination. The organ cells that have attracted the compound are easily seen on the scan if they have clustered to a size of approximately a quarter of an inch (7 mm) or greater. Finally, a computer translates the signals into actual images that show normal/abnormal organ function. A CT image is then performed so that the images can later be “fused” on a computer for functional imaging superimposed on a anatomical images.

The entire procedure typically takes from two to three hours, depending on the specific type of PET/CT study being performed.

How should I prepare for my PET/CT scan?

When you schedule your PET/CT scan, please ask about any dietary restrictions, this is especially important if you have diabetes or trouble with controlling your blood sugar levels. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for four to six hours before the exam. Strenuous activity should not be performed 24 hours prior to your exam since muscles can attract glucose and cause difficulty interpreting your examination. In addition, please ask if you can continue to take prescribed medications on the day of the exam.

If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, or if you are nursing, be sure to discuss this with your physician before undergoing this procedure.

On the day of the exam, remember to dress in comfortable clothing.

What are the risks and benefits?

If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, or if you are nursing, be sure to discuss this with your physician before undergoing this procedure.

Any special instructions after my test?

You can expect to resume your normal activities following your PET/CT scan.

The nuclear physician or radiologist will share the results of the exam with your referring physician, who will then consult with you regarding appropriate follow-up and treatment.

Nuclear Medicine

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear Medicine is a branch of radiology that focuses on the body’s function at the molecular level rather than structure (as with traditional imaging techniques such as X-ray, CT, and MRI). Nuclear Medicine allows your doctors to evaluate the body’s functions as they are happening in real time. This allows many disease processes and changes related to treatment strategies to be detected earlier than with other imaging techniques.

Nuclear Medicine imaging is also different from traditional imaging in that, unlike X-rays which are generated from a machine and passed through the body to form an imaging, in Nuclear Medicine, the X-rays (called gamma rays) are injected into the body and images are formed by collecting information as they leave the body. The injected material is called a tracer or radiopharmaceutical.

Why is this exam done?

Nuclear Medicine scans are done to evaluate for a number of conditions including: tumor evaluation and localization, lung function, cardiovascular disease, kidney function, liver and gallbladder function, and gastrointestinal disorders.

What will happen during the exam?

Nuclear Medicine examinations are tailored to evaluate very specific clinical questions. Unlike an X-ray or CT where you may not notice much of a difference between an x-ray or CT of the chest verses abdomen, Nuclear Medicine examinations vary drastically depending on what body system is being evaluated. Therefore, depending on your examination, you may be injected with tracer through an IV, eat or drink tracer, breathe in the tracer, have additional imaging (such as x-rays), or have medications administer during the examination.

Nuclear Medicine examinations typically last longer than many other radiographic examinations. This is because it takes time for tracers to be distributed throughout the body and to localize to certain tissues. Unlike a X-ray or CT which is a ‘snapshot’ in time of the body, Nuclear Medicine images the body over time to determine how the body is working. Therefore, it is not uncommon for examinations to last several hours or be done over the course of several days. In most instances, the vast majority of the time is spent allowing tracers to do their work and is not actually spend in the imaging suites; however, in some instances, movement of tracers is captured in real time and longer periods of time in the imaging suite are necessary.

How should I prepare for my Nuclear Medicine scan?

If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, or if you are nursing, be sure to discuss this with your physician before undergoing this procedure.

On the day of the exam, remember to dress in comfortable clothing. Jewelry and metallic objects (eg. belt buckle) may need to be removed or should be left at home, as they can interfere with the examination.

Any special instructions after my test?

Tracers, whether given IV, orally, or inhaled, generally produce very little symptoms. Unless instructed otherwise by your physician, you may resume normal activities and diet following the examination. Any residual radioactivity in the body after your procedure will decay to non-radioactive substances through normal processes. Many tracers are excreted in the urine and stool, so drinking plenty of water may help to remove radiation from the bladder and bowel. Unless instructed to do so by your physician, there is no need to suspend normal social interactions with friends and family due to radiation exposure.

You can contact Rochester Radiology by phone at 585-336-5000 or by e-mail through our secure and confidential contact page.

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