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A PET/CT scan is actually a combination of two scans: a computed tomography (CT) scan and a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. The combination of procedures can help detect conditions that may not show up on a standard X-ray, or on a CT or PET scan alone. While a CT scan shows detailed anatomical structure, a PET scan gives the healthcare team information on organ function and metabolism. PET/CT scans are often used to get information about various types of cancer, but there are growing clinical applications in cardiology and other fields.
During the PET/CT scan, the patient lies on a table and the part of the body that is to be scanned is positioned in the middle of a ring-shaped scanner. It generally takes less than 30 minutes to perform the scan. The patient will be given a radioactive tracer as part of the exam.
Because a patient will be exposed to radioactive material during a PET/CT scan, a female patient must notify her physician, the radiologist and the radiology technologist if she is pregnant, if there is a possibility she is pregnant or if she is breastfeeding before undergoing the procedure. The exact amount of radiation exposure depends on many factors. Patients should discuss this with the radiologist and their healthcare team for more details. In addition, they should let their medical team know if they are allergic to any foods or drugs before beginning the procedure.
For more details, please visit Your PET/CT scan.