A PET-CT is a painless imaging scan that can detect cancer and certain heart and brain diseases.
The PET scan is like a high-tech 'camera' that turns a small amount of radiation into pictures. Meanwhile, the CT scan uses x-rays to show the organs and tissues.
PET-CT scans are a useful tool in:
Doctors use PET-CT for many types of cancer, including:
At UPMC Imaging Services, our PET-CT scanners:
If you need a PET-CT scan, UPMC has over 100 imaging centers throughout Pennsylvania, western New York, and western Maryland.
The imaging clinic will give you details on how to prep for your PET-CT scan.
Typically, you'll need to stop eating and drinking four to six hours before the scan. You can continue to drink water. Avoid any vigorous exercise 6 hours before your appointment, and preferably for 24 hours.
Let the imaging clinic staff know:
On the day of your PET-CT, don't wear jewelry and clothing with metal, like metal zippers.
If you have metal in your clothing — like snaps or zippers — you'll need to change into a gown.
The imaging tech will inject a radioactive sugar or tracer. You'll wait about an hour so the body can absorb it.
The scan takes around 30 minutes. It may take more or less time based on what the doctor needs to see.
During your PET-CT, you will:
You can leave the clinic shortly after the test. If you asked for a sedative, you'll need someone to drive you home.
After the test, you can eat and drink as usual and resume regular activity.
Drink several glasses of water for a few hours after you PET-CT to help flush the tracer out of the body.
You won't get the results right away, as your doctor will closely study the images. Your doctor will call you or book a visit to discuss the results.
You can also sign in to your free UPMC patient portal account to view your PET-CT results.