Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computerized Tomography (CT) are both standard imaging tools that allow physicians to pinpoint the location of cancer within the body before making treatment recommendations. The highly sensitive PET scan detects the metabolic signal of actively growing cancer cells in the body and the CT scan provides a detailed picture of the internal anatomy that reveals the location, size and shape of abnormal cancerous growths. In a hybrid exam, we perform PET and CT scans during a single session. When the resulting scans are combined, they form a single image showing metabolic activity in relation to your body's anatomy. This allows the physician to pinpoint the location of cancer within the body before making treatment recommendations. PET/CT exams are minimally-invasive, and in many cases, they can reduce the need for further tests or more invasive procedures.
Because PET and CT technology each have some medical limitations, we perform hybrid exams, eliminating the need for separate scans. The images produces by these exams let your radiologist and referring physician view the way your body's structures look and behave. The CT images show physical landmarks to precisely locate the PET scan's findings. For example, PET scanning can show cells that may be cancerous, while CT scanning can show precisely where those cells are located in your body. Doctors use PET/CT scans to make better diagnoses and to determine the best course of treatment for a range of diseases and disorders in several practice areas, including oncology, cardiology and neurology. While a CT scan provides Anatomical detail (size and location of the tumor, mass, etc.), a PET scan provides metabolic detail (cellular activity of the tumor, mass, etc.). Combined PET/CT is more accurate than PET and CT alone! Anatomical: CT Scanners send x-rays through the body, which are then measured by detectors in the CT scanner. A computer algorithm then processes those measurements to produce pictures of the body's internal structures. Metabolic: PET images begin with an injection of FTG, an analog of glucose that is tagged to the radionuclide F18. Metabolically active organs or tumors consume sugar at high rates, and as the tagged sugar starts to decay, it emits positrons. These positrons then collide with electrons, giving off gamma rays, and a computer converts the gamma rays into images. These images indicate metabolic "hot spots", often indicating rapidly growing tumors (because cancerous cells generally consume more sugar/energy than other organs or tumors). The entire examination usually takes less than 30 minutes, providing comprehensive diagnostic information to your health care team very quickly. The PET/CT system provides exceptional image quality and accuracy of diagnostic information.
At Akumin, we recognize the many benefits that PET/CT technology offers patients and their doctors. That's why we were the first imaging center in South Florida to introduce the Siemens BIOGRAPH 16-Slice PET/CT scanner in an out patient setting. The BIOGRAPH system enables earlier disease detection, as well as more accurate diagnosis, which can lead to better treatment decisions. Access to such valuable information offers better outcomes for patients with cancer, cardiac defects, and neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's.
On the day of your scan, you will receive a small injection of a sugar with a low-dose radioisotope called Flourine-18. This substance will circulate throughout your body and will be metabolized by your cells and organs. During this process, you will be asked to relax for up to 90 minutes. You will be in your own room with a TV. Your room and the exam room may be cool, so be sure to wear warm comfortable clothing. Because diseased cells- such as cancer cells- process sugars differently than other cells, the PET/CT system is able to measure this increased metabolic function. These findings show our radiologist that a problem may exist. Once the sugar fully circulates through your body, you will be asked to lie down on the scanner bed to begin your exam. Shortly after the exam begins the CT scanner will make some noise. DO not be alarmed, as these sounds are normal. Once the CT exam is complete, the PET scan will begin. Following this portion of the exam, images of your body's metabolic activity will be combined with images from the CT scan to complete a detailed picture of your health. PET/CT Technology is safe, and Akumin follows all steps to maintain patient comfort during the exam. You can help assure the clarity of your scans by remaining as still as possible and by breathing normally while the system is scanning. Unless otherwise specified, you can resume your normal activities immediately following your exam. To eliminate the sugar from your body, it is important that you drink as much liquid as possible for the remainder of the day. After analyzing and interpreting the images, an Akumin radiologist will contact your doctor with the results of your study. Remember, only your doctor can discuss the results of your exam with you.