What is a PET/CT scan?
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine imaging technique which produces a three-dimensional picture of functional processes. It is combined with a CT x-ray scan to form a detailed picture of the inside of the body.
PET is extremely good at detecting the early stages of diseases such as cancer. Small amounts of tumour may be found even if they are undetectable by other imaging procedures. This can have a major impact on choosing the best treatment for you, such as surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
PET can also help to monitor the effectiveness of therapy. You may need more than one PET scan in the course of your disease to optimise treatment.
Is it safe?
The effective radiation dose from this procedure ranges from approximately 2 to 10 mSv, which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in three to five years.
Due to the use of an injected radioactive tracer it is recommended that you should not be close to small children or pregnant women for four hours following your exam.
Please inform the technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
Is there any preparation?
You will need to fast (no food or liquids) before your scan as the concentration of the radioactive sugar in the tumour is affected by the amount of natural sugar in the blood.
A personalised instruction sheet will be sent to you with the exact preparation that you will need for the test. However, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or queries.
What will happen to me?
You will receive an injection of a radioactive chemical. This is a sugar compound, which is taken up in most cancerous cells. Depending on the area under examination, it may also be necessary to administer a muscle relaxant drug, or insert a urinary catheter (tube) into the bladder, or administer a sedative.
After this injection you will be asked to lie down and rest for approximately 60 minutes while the radioactive sugar circulates around your body. Sugar naturally goes to muscles that are moving, so to prevent these muscles from taking up the radioactive sugar and hiding the view of any tumour it is important to lie very still for this resting period.
The pictures will then be taken. You will spend a minimum of three hours at our nuclear medicine department.
Where can I get a PET/CT scan?
What does it cost?
Our prices page has a downloadable price list. Costs vary depending on exactly what is involved in the procedure. Please phone our Call Centre (04 978 5500) for more information.