What is PET/CT Imaging?
PET/CT imaging is a powerful oncology imaging tool that empowers physicians and patients with the information needed to develop the most clinically appropriate and viable treatment plans.
PET/CT imaging involves the fusion (or co-registration) of the results obtained from a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and a computed tomography (CT) scan performed as part of a single imaging exam.
The majority of PET/CT scans are performed for oncologic applications. Physicians utilize PET/CT scans for diagnosing, staging and evaluating treatments for their cancer patients.
When disease strikes, the biochemistry of cells and tissue changes. In cancer, for example, cells begin to grow at a much faster rate. In one continuous whole-body scan, PET/CT captures images of changes in the body’s metabolism caused by actively growing cancer cells, while also providing a detailed picture of the body’s internal anatomy that reveals the size, shape and exact location of the abnormal cancerous growths.
A PET scan helps the physician distinguish between living and dead tissue or between benign and malignant disorders. PET imaging provides the physician with additional information about cellular activity which guides the characterization of a questionable abnormality as malignant or benign.
A PET/CT scan puts time on your side. The earlier the diagnosis and the more accurate the assessment of the extent of disease, the better the chance for successful treatment.
Comparing the Modalities
Positron emission tomography (PET) and computerized tomography (CT) are both state-of-the-art imaging tools that allow physicians to pinpoint the location of cancer within the body before making treatment recommendations. The highly sensitive PET scan images the metabolic functioning of cells and tissue, while the CT scan provides a detailed picture of the body’s internal physical anatomy.
A hybrid PET/CT scan combines the strengths of these two well-established imaging modalities into a single scan with significantly improved diagnostic confidence and accuracy.
Computed Tomography (CT) Imaging
A CT scan is able to detect and localize changes in the body structure or anatomy, such as the size, shape, and exact location of an abnormal growth, a sizeable tumor, or a musculoskeletal injury.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging
PET imaging allows physicians to distinguish between living and dead tissue or between benign and malignant disorders. Because a PET scan images the biology of disorders at the molecular level, it can help the physician detect abnormalities in cellular activity at a very early stage, generally before anatomic changes are otherwise detectable.
CT and PET imaging each have particular benefits and limitations when used alone. But by combining these two state-of the-art technologies, physicians can more accurately diagnose, localize, and monitor certain cancers, as well as heart disease and certain brain disorders.
Key Advantages of PET/CT
PET/CT imaging provides physicians with greater anatomic and metabolic detail along with a higher level of diagnostic accuracy for many oncology applications.
Because both the PET and CT scans are performed at one time without the patient having to change positions, there is less room for diagnostic errors or uncertainty.
PET/CT imaging offers greater convenience for patients who undergo two exams (PET & CT) at one sitting, rather than at two different times.