A PET/CT scan is a combination of 2 scans- a PET scan and a CT scan. PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography. The PET scan requires an injection of a very small amount of a radioactive tracer similar to sugar (18-Fludeoxyglucose, or FDG for short) to produce images that show how your body is working. CT stands for Computed Tomography, and uses X-rays to take pictures of different organs in your body.

By combining these two techniques in one scanner, we are able localise problem areas with greater accuracy to help plan the best treatment.

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Preparation

FDG PET/CT scans: Patients must not have anything to eat or drink, except water, for six hours before their appointment. This includes chewing gum, cough lozenges, drugs in syrup, etc. Patients may drink as much water as they like and take their regular medication in tablet form. Diabetic patients will receive specific instructions at the time of booking in regards to medication and fasting.
The Scan

PET/CT scans: After the tracer injection, the patient will need to rest quietly for 60-90 minutes in a private room whilst the tracer is absorbed. The injection has no side effects. The scan takes about 15 minutes and is painless and quiet. The scanner has a spacious, wide bore for comfort; for much of the scan the patient’s head will be outside the scanner.
After the Scan

After any isotope scan is completed we usually recommend limiting close contact with pregnant women and very young children for a few hours (depending on type of scan and isotope used) to avoid radiation exposure to them. We also encourage patients to drink plenty of fluids as this helps flush the residual tracer from the body.

We also perform SPECT CT scans in the Nuclear Medicine Department; please click here for information on SPECT CT

Further information including individual preparation for various scans, length of procedures and care to be taken following each scan, is available from the imaging department.