What is a PET/CT Scan or a Fusion Scan?
PET/CT scan combines PET and CT into one image. PET (Positron Emission
Tomography) utilizes a low-level radiopharmaceutical or a “glucose
tracer” to visualize processes within the body. The glucose
tracer emits positrons, or positive electrons. As the positrons
encounter electrons within the body, a reaction occurs which produces
gamma rays. These gamma rays are then detected by the PET scanner.
Therefore, the image produced by PET contains information about
metabolic activity taking place in the body. Malignant or cancerous
tumors are metabolically active so with that being said, PET is
very good at determining whether or not a tumor is malignant through
its metabolic activity.
stands for Computed Tomography. This technique uses x-rays to make
cross-sectional images (called slices) of your body. The structure
of body organs is more clearly visualized than with conventional
x-rays. “Fusion” means that the anatomical information
obtained from CT is combined with the biological PET information
to form an image that records living tissues and life processes
with great precision and detail.
What is the Benefit of having a PET/CT Scan Performed?
The PET/CT scan
is a powerful tool used by doctors when evaluating patients who
may or may not have cancer. It allows them to effectively diagnose
and evaluate the cancer and whether or not it has spread to other
areas of the body. It is often used to measure the response of a
tumor to therapy, which ultimately guides therapeutic decisions.
PET/CT is also
used to direct or guide biopsies and surgeries as well as focusing
radiation treatments. This scan essentially can be thought of as
a tool that helps doctors see the whole picture because it gives
them a better, more complete picture of his or her patient.