Positron-Emission Tomography (PET) Procedures

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a noninvasive, diagnostic nuclear medicine technology that uses special radiological pharmaceuticals to create images that illustrate biological functions within specific areas of the body. CT (computed tomography) uses a computer to analyze data from a series of X-rays to produce cross-sectional images of structures within the body. When combined into a single PET/CT imaging tool, the CT scan shows the anatomical location of the biological functions illustrated by the PET scan. The end result provides a dynamic and comprehensive image of the targeted area.

Download and print Your Guide to PET/CT brochure (pdf 171KB).

Why Is PET/CT Used?

PET/CT provides unique diagnostic information that enhances our ability to:

  • Diagnose disease in the earliest stages, often before it is detectable using other imaging techniques
  • Monitor treatment and medication response inside the body
  • Replace multiple diagnostic procedures with a single exam
  • Help predict whether or not a surgical procedure will be beneficial

A primary use of PET/CT is for cancer imaging. PET/CT can detect cancer in its earliest form, pinpoint its exact location or locations, distinguish between benign and malignant tumors, and determine the best way to treat the disease.

Other uses of PET/CT include detecting and diagnosing brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, quantifying the extent of heart disease and determining whether a patient would benefit from heart surgery.