PET/CT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

WHAT IS A PET/CT SCAN?


PET/CT, Positron Emission Tomography integrated with Computed Tomography, is a specialized imaging apparatus used to accurately render information on the condition of the body organs. Seamless co-registration of PET and CT scan data consolidates functional and anatomical details of regions of interest. This allows physicians to identify the character and extent of diseases, monitor its progress and effectiveness of therapeutic prescription for better delivery of customized care.




HOW DOES PET/CT SCAN WORK?


Low-dose radioactive biomarker (radiotracer) selected is injected into blood vessel to trace the biological changes at the molecular/cellular level by quantifying radioactivity emitted from the body.




WHAT ARE THE CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF PET/CT SCAN?


PET/CT scan is usually used to diagnose tumors and cancers in lungs, brain, head and neck, bone, gastrointestine, hepatobiliary and cancers relating to reproductive organs. It can also be used to assess brain disorder (such as Alzheimer’s disease, Epilepsy), functionality of the central nervous system as well as heart disease.




WHO SHOULD GET A PET/CT SCAN?


Traditionally, the primary care physician or specialist will decide if a PET/CT scan is necessary. PET/CT scan has capability of facilitating precise early diagnosis, treatment staging, monitoring and evaluation of disease spread and/or treatment outcomes of cancer, neurological disorders and/or heart diseases.




WHAT IS THE PET/CT SCAN PROCEDURE LIKE?


Radiotracer is injected and allowed about 30-45 minutes to settle in the body during which water will be served and resting in privacy is accorded in the individual Uptake Room with the Hot Toilet in the vicinity for utilization prior to the PET/CT scan. The opened design of the Siemens scanner, together with the motorised imaging couch, facilitates smooth flow through the camera which is easing even for one with claustrophobia. During the scan (which varies from 10 to 45 minutes in duration depending on the region of interest), minimal movement is advisable and the speaker will be on in case of any necessary communication with the monitoring radiographer in the neighbouring control room across the lead glass.




WHAT, IF ANY, IS THE RADIATION RISK INVOLVED FOR PET/CT SCAN?


An inherent risk of a PET/CT scan is associated with the use of radiotracers, however at a dose as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). This ensures minimal radiation exposure which can be mitigated. The tracer selected is usually short-lived with the radioactivity decayed from the body in 1 to 2 hours. Pregnant women are discouraged for a PET/CT scan unless otherwise requested by physician.




ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS OR PAIN AS A RESULT OF A PET/CT SCAN?


PET/CT scan is a non-invasive outpatient procedure. Typically painless, except for the injection which causes needle-pricking sensation, there is no side effect experienced from the PET/CT scan as the radioactive tracer introduced is of a very low dosage and can be processed by the body naturally.




WHO SHOULD NOT GET A PET/CT SCAN?


Pregnant women are discouraged for a PET/CT scan unless otherwise requested by physician.




WHAT ADVANTAGE DOES A PET/CT SCAN HAVE IN THE DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER OR OTHER SERIOUS ILLNESS?


PET/CT scan have advantages of showing disease localization and metabolism, indicating its spreads and response to treatment, potentially eliminating the need for redundant diagnostic tests/procedures.




WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PET/CT SCAN AND MRI SCAN?


The PET/CT scan uses radiotracer to determine the metabolic changes that arise from an organ or tissue at a cellular level thus allowing an early stage of these diseases to be visualized. An MRI usually detects these changes later when the diseases start to physically cause a change in the organs or tissue structure.





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