PET scans require a radiopharmaceutical to be injected into the body. The contents of this injection attach themselves to areas of increased metabolic activity, which are generally cancer cells or inflammation. This process is referred to as “uptake” and can take between 15-60 minutes. During this time, patients are instructed to relax in special rooms to allow the radiopharmaceutical to do its job.
Once uptake is finished, the patient is escorted to a hybrid imaging scanner that utilizes both PET and CT components, hence the appropriately termed label of PET/CT. The CT scanner provides a low dose anatomical CT scan that allows the radiologist to see where the PET information is within the body. The CT information, along with the PET information, is fused together to provide a 3D view of the anatomy. The exam itself takes between 30-60 minutes.
Once finished, the Radiologist will review the scan information and generate a comprehensive report that includes their findings, comparisons, and any information relevant to the examination.