PET is an acronym for Positron Emission Tomography and refers to a specialised type of nuclear medicine study. Radioactively labelled substances (such as FDG – which is a sugar-like molecule) are imaged using special cameras and information regarding the functioning of the cells of the body is obtained.

CT stands for Computed Tomography and refers to an x-ray examination that provides very detailed information about the structure of the human body. With multi-detector CT technology it is possible to exquisitely visualise the anatomy of the various organs and tissues.

PET-CT combines the two types of scan into a single modality and merges the information to provide a unique view of the functioning and structure of the body. This combined anatomical and metabolic imaging is particularly important when imaging cancers.


Frequently asked questions:
Q: What can I expect when I go for a PET-CT?
A: There is very little preparation needed for a PET-CT scan. Typically you will be asked to fast for 6 hours before the examination. You may drink water and take any medications that are tolerated on an empty stomach. No strenuous exercise is to be performed during the 24 hours prior to your appointment. You will be asked to change into a gown, so wear comfortable clothes and leave jewellery at home. On the day of the examination, you will be given an injection of the radioactive sugar and asked to lie on a bed or sit in a chair for 60-90 minutes while the FDG travels through your body. It is important to be as still as possible while you wait.

After this you will be taken to the scanner room and the technologist will position you in the scanner where you will lie for the duration of the scan. Typically the scans take between 20-40 minutes. This may vary depending on your height and the areas to be examined. Usually the very quick (a few seconds) CT scan is performed first and then the longer PET scan. It is important to lie still during the procedure.  The computer then produces the images, which are presented for reporting to the physicians.

You may resume your normal daily activity. The FDG will leave your system fairly rapidly. Drinking lots of water will help expedite the process.

Q: When will I get the result?
A: The results of your scan will not be immediately available. Our PET-CT scans are read by a Radiologist in conjunction with a Nuclear Medicine Physician and they will issue a joint report. The diagnosis will be communicated to your referring clinician, whom you may contact for the result.

Q: Do I need to make an appointment?
A: The Cape PET-CT centre is run off-site and it is important for you to make an appointment so that all the relevant information can be obtained regarding your condition and although very little preparation is needed, it is important that you are aware of these so as to achieve the best possible quality scan.
It is also important to inform your physician of the following prior to the scan:
* You are or may be pregnant,
* You are diabetic,
* You are unsure if you should take your medication, or
* You have had recent radiation, chemo- therapy or surgery.
You will also be given further information regarding any special preparation or timing that may be relevant to the type of scan you need to undergo.



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