At Stanford Health Care - ValleyCare, we are committed to using the latest technology to provide you with the best possible imaging and diagnostic services.
One example is our PET/CT scanner, which combines two imaging tests to help physicians more accurately diagnose and identify cancer, heart disease and brain disorders.
A PET/CT scan merges the technologies of PET (positron emission tomography) and CT (computed tomography) into a single machine.
PET is a test that uses special imaging cameras and a radioactive type of sugar to produce pictures of the function and metabolism of cells in the body. CT is an x-ray that generates a detailed view of the anatomy or structure of organs and tissues in the body. A CT scan can show the dimension of vessels, lymph nodes and organ systems.
By merging these two technologies into PET/CT, we are able to produce scans that provide a picture of function (PET), a picture of anatomy (CT) and a merged picture of both the body's metabolism and structure.
Preparing for a PET/CT Scan
There is very little preparation required for a PET/CT scan. Typically you will fast for six to eight hours prior to the exam, but you may drink water. If you are taking medication, please consult with your physician before the exam. You should avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours before your appointment.
What to Expect During a PET/CT Scan
You will receive a small injection of radioactive sugar before the exam and be asked to sit or lay down for about 30 to 60 minutes while the sugar travels through your body. A technologist will then assist you to the scanner. The CT portion is conducted first, followed by the PET portion. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the procedure. It is important that you remain still for the duration of the scan. Most scans typically take 20 to 40 minutes.
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