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PET/CT Scan

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What is a PET/CT scan?

The latest technology in internal imaging is available at Hunt Regional Medical Center (HRMC).

Patient getting a PET/CT scanState-of-the-art PET/CT scans are provided by Shared Medical Services in a mobile unit that visits HRMC weekly. The scan combines the two technologies of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Computed Tomography (CT) into a fused image that provides the radiologist or radiation oncologist with highly effective imaging of anatomy and metabolic functions of specific organs, tissue and bone. This advanced form of imaging and radiology enables doctors to identify structures that are functioning abnormally inside of the body, leading to accurate diagnoses.

PET/CT scans are commonly used to diagnose and treat different types of cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, Graves’ disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Scheduling a PET/CT Scan

PET/CT scans must be scheduled by your physician or oncologist by calling the Shared Medical Services toll-free scheduling line at 800-500-4014, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Your physician’s office may also fax an order to 800-900-8952. On the day of the scan, please come to registration on the 2nd floor of Hunt Regional Medical Center. From there, you will be escorted to the PET/CT coach by our imaging center staff.

Billing for PET scans is done by Shared Medical Services. Please check with your insurance provider before the scan to ensure coverage and avoid unexpected fees.

Preparing for a PET/CT Scan

Your doctor will explain the restrictions on food and drink necessary to prepare for your upcoming PET/CT scan.

Be sure to let your doctor know if you are allergic to iodine or seafood, or if you are (or could be) pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Inform your doctor of any medications and supplements you are taking, including vitamins.

You will need to remove metal items such as jewelry, hairpins, eyeglasses, and dentures before the exam.

What to Expect During a PET/CT Scan

You will be given a radioactive tracer for the scan to make the organs more visible. You may be asked to drink some contrast material, depending on the nature of the medical problem being examined.

During a PET/CT Scan, you will lie on a movable table that moves your body through a large donut-shaped ring. As you pass through the ring, the scanner takes a complete 360-degree picture of you and sends it to a computer. The table moves a small distance and another picture is taken and sent to the computer. This process is repeated until the computer has enough information to reconstruct a complete image of your internal anatomy.

During the exam you will hear the sound of the motors and gears. It is important that you lie still because any movement can blur the images. The scan could take 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the part of your body being scanned. After the scan you will able to return to your normal activities.

After the exam, the radiologist who reads your scan will report to your physician on the results of the test. Your doctor will then explain the results to you and recommend follow-up actions, be it comprehensive cancer care or another type of treatment, if needed.