Meet Becky, Tucson businesswoman
Becky was understandably nervous when her doctor ordered a PET/CT study to determine if her cancer had spread. She had read that a PET scan is extremely accurate, but she was still quite anxious. Because the PET technologists at Radiology Ltd. in Tucson took the time to explain the entire procedure to her beforehand, Becky said it was just what she needed to put her mind at ease.
PET/CT combines the fine structural detail of CT with PET’s ability to detect changes in cell function. This combination allows for earlier and more accurate detection of disease than either CT or PET alone. PET/CT can often detect small cancers before they are apparent on other types of exams because many cancers use glucose as their primary fuel. PET/CT images supplement the information obtained from conventional studies such as CT, MRI, and Ultrasound.
After a finger-stick to obtain your blood glucose level, a small intravenous catheter will be inserted into a vein in your arm. You will then rest comfortably in a quiet room while the radioactive tracer is injected. The tracer, fluorine 18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), is a radioactive sugar that is used by your cells as fuel. The FDG is allowed to circulate throughout your body during a 45-minute uptake period. The small amounts of tracer that are used do not have any side effects.
You will then be placed on a table in the PET/CT scanner, where you will rest comfortably for the remainder of the study. Detectors are then used to locate areas of increased accumulation of the tracer compared to normal tissues. The scanner makes very little noise. Depending on the particular type of exam, you may be required to place your arms above your head during the imaging process. Scan time varies depending upon your doctor’s request; the average scan time is 45 minutes.
For your safety and the protection of others, we do not allow anybody except patients in our exam rooms.
After your study is over, the images will be evaluated by one of our board-certified radiologists with expertise in PET/CT imaging. A final report will be sent to your doctor or healthcare provider, who can then discuss the results with you in detail.