What is a PET scan?
PET stands for “positron emission tomography”. It is a nuclear medicine imaging test in which a small amount of liquid radioactive material is injected into your body and is used to diagnose a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease and other diseases. The radioactive substance most commonly used in PET scanning is a simple sugar (like glucose) called FDG, which stands for “fluorodeoxyglucose”. It is injected into your bloodstream and accumulates in your body where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. These are detected by the PET scanner and a computer converts the signals into detailed pictures or images showing how tissue and organs are working. If you are having an FDG PET, your sugar metabolism (how sugar is used by your body) is imaged.
PET scanners are now commonly combined with computed tomography (CT) scanners, called PET-CT scanners. CT imaging uses X-ray equipment to create detailed images of slices of the inside of your body. The PET-CT combination allows any abnormality on the PET scan to be precisely located within the body, allowing for more accurate diagnosis of any problems. The PET or PET-CT scanner looks like a large box with a circular hole in the middle.
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