Positron emission tomography–computed tomography, also known as PET-CT, is the fusion of anatomic and functional information acquired simultaneously. It tests body and disease in a way that is diagnostically very powerful. An understanding of the normal and benign as well as the pitfalls and artifacts is essential to accurate interpretation. It is a medical imaging technique which uses a device which combines positron emission tomography (PET) scanner and an X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanner in a single gantry system. The images derived from both can be taken simultaneously and sequentially.
The test taker will have to change into the hospital gown and empty his/her bladder. Before the scan, tracers are given to the patient i.e. a radioactive drug .The drug may be given by injection or may be asked to inhaled or swallowed, depending on the type of tracer being used. The patient has to wait at least 30-60 minutes before the tracer gets completely absorbed by the body. The scan involves lying down on a narrow table attached to a PET machine, which looks like a giant doughnut. The table glides into the machine slowly and the patient is asked to remain still. The test is completely painless.
The doctor should be informed before the test about pregnancy issues, any prescriptions or medicines taken by the patient. It may be instructed to not eat anything till before 8 hours of the test except water. People who are claustrophobic (phobic of enclosed spaces) might be given a sedative before the test.
A PET-CT scan is a very effective way of examining the chemical activity body parts. It inspects the oxygen intake, blood flow and the metabolism of organs and tissues. They are mostly used to detect cancer (brain, breast, cervical, lung, prostrate, melanoma etc.), brain disorders (tumors, Alzheimer's disease or seizures), heart problems or problems related to nervous system
After the test, the usual activities can be resumed. Drink plenty of fluids to flush the tracers out of the system. Generally, all tracers leave the body after two days.
Meanwhile, the interpretation of the PET images will be shared with your doctor. He will go over the results with you at your follow-up appointment and decide on the further line of treatment.