PET is an acronym for Positron Emission Tomography. PET is a test that uses special imaging cameras and a radioactive type of sugar to produce pictures of the function and metabolism of the cells in the body.

CT stands for Computerized Tomography. CT is an x-ray test that generates a detailed view of the anatomy or structure of organs and tissues in the body. The CT scan can show the dimension of vessels, lymph nodes and organ systems.

PET/CT scan depicts both technologies using a single machine. It provides a picture of function (PET), a picture of anatomy (CT) and a merged picture of both the body’s metabolism and structure. Doctors use this test to accurately diagnose, stage and treat cancer.

PET scan machineTo diagnose, stage and treat cancer, the exam can provide answers to the following critical questions:

    • Where is the tumor?
    • Is it spreading?
    • How large is it?
    • What is the optimal therapy?
    • Is the therapy working?
    • Is there a recurrence?


Consult your physician

  • Are or may be pregnant
  • Are allergic to any food or drugs
  • Are currently being treated for an infection
  • Have had recent radiation therapy
  • Weigh over 400 pounds- our PET/CT equipment has a weight limit

Exam Preparation

There are strict preparation guidelines for all patients, especially diabetics, regarding what you can eat or drink before your PET/CT exam.

  • Do not eat or drink anything except water four to six hours prior to your exam
  • Take your regularly scheduled medicine before arriving (if you can tolerate it on an empty stomach)
  • Avoid rigorous activity for 24 hours before your exam
  • Dress warmly and comfortably
  • Do not wear any jewelry
  • If you are diabetic, eat a small meal four hours prior to your exam and take your insulin, if necessary. It is critical that you follow all preparation guidelines and ensure that your glucose levels are within normal limits, or the exam will need to be rescheduled.

Important: Please make every effort to keep your appointment. If you must cancel or reschedule, notify our office at least 24 hours in advance. The solution used for your scan is prepared specifically for you and will have to be discarded if you fail to keep your appointment.

The Exam

Prior to the exam you will receive a small injection of radioactive sugar (FDG). You will be asked to sit or lay down on a comfortable chair or bed for 30-90 minutes while the FDG travels throughout your body. After this time, the technologist will assist you to the scanner. The CT portion of the exam is completed first followed by the PET portion.

It is important that you don’t move for the duration of the exam. The length of the exam is determined by your height and area of interest. Expect to spend 2 to 3 hours getting your exam but most of this time is spent preparing for the scan. Most PET/CT scans are typically completed within 20-40 minutes.

After the Exam

Once the total scan has been performed, you may resume daily activity. Even though the FDG will quickly leave your body, you can expedite the process by drinking plenty of water after your scan is complete.

Your PET/CT results will not be immediately available, but the reading physician will contact your referring physician to convey all pertinent information.


PET/CT Scan Appointments

All appointments for PET/CT scans are scheduled through Alliance Imaging.  To schedule an appointment call toll free:  886-245-5995.

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Patients should call to pre-register up to two weeks in advance for any scheduled surgery and out-patient appointment including most diagnostic tests, lab work and pre-operative testing. This eliminates the need to wait for an admissions representative upon arrival. Patients can go directly to their point of service. Admissions representatives are available to take calls from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Please call 508-422-2222.

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