Hello, I'm Dr. Jay Pahade, a diagnostic radiologist at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. I'd like to talk with you about positron emission tomography or P-E-T.
P-E-T is performed to identify disease in its earliest stage, often before symptoms occur or before abnormalities can be detected with other diagnostic tests. It is a type of nuclear medicine imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive materials – called radiotracers.
Radiotracers are typically injected into the bloodstream, inhaled or swallowed. They travel through the area being examined and give off energy in the form of gamma rays which are detected by a special camera and computer to create images of the inside of your body.
A P-E-T scan can help your doctor evaluate how well your organs and tissues are functioning and may be used to help diagnose cancer or evaluate other organs like your brain and heart. It is often performed with a CT scan (called a PET-CT) so two images can be fused together by a computer to provide a better picture of your organs.
If you're scheduled for a P-E-T scan, there are several things you can do to prepare.
First, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything and to refrain from taking certain medications before the exam. Leave any jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown.
Tell your doctor and the technologist if there is any possibility you are pregnant and discuss any recent illnesses or other medical conditions, medications you're taking, and whether you have any allergies.
You may have some concerns about P-E-T scan. The level of radiation exposure will depend on the type of PET you are having performed, but remember, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs any risk.
To learn more about P-E-T, visit Radiology Info dot org.