A PET/CT is a Nuclear Medicine scan which shows the metabolic function of an organ or tissue as well as structural images of the organ in 3D. This makes detecting even the smallest lesion a lot easier for our Nuclear Medicine Physicians.
In 2009 Queensland X-Ray installed the first private PET/CT in the southern hemisphere, and since then has installed three additional scanners across the state.
PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography. It uses a small amount of radioactive material, known as a tracer which is injected into your body and is absorbed into your organs and tissues. CT is a type of X-ray. You can read more about CT here.
The combination of the two scans has been proven to be extremely sensitive for detecting the early stages of disease, and can detect abnormalities even in the absence of structural change. Small tumours may be found even if they are undetectable by other imaging procedures or CT alone. This can have a major impact on choosing the best treatment for patients. PET/CT information can be used to determine what combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy is most likely to be successful in managing a patient’s cancer. PET/CT can also help to monitor the effectiveness of therapy and assist planning for surgery and radiotherapy.
How do I prepare?
Correct preparation for a PET/CT is very important to improve the accuracy of the test. Preparation varies between scans and even with the time of your scan. A detailed preparation sheet will be given to you when you make your appointment.
The tracers used in PET have a shelf life of only a few hours, so it’s important you follow the instructions of your Doctor and our Nuclear Medicine Technicians closely. If poor preparation forces your appointment to be rescheduled, the tracer ordered for your appointment will expire. Depending on circumstances, this cost may be passed on to you.
Technology and Team
Queensland X-ray has the latest PETCT equipment. Most recently with the installation of a Siemens Biograph mCT Flow 64 at Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane.
We offer a number of different types of PET/CT scans, including:
- F18-FDG – Used to diagnose, stage and re-stage a wide range of oncology processes. This is the most common type of PET/CT scan.
- Ga68-PSMA – Used to diagnose, stage and re-stage prostate cancer.
- Ga68-DOTATATE – Used to diagnose, stage and re-stage varies neuroendocrine tumours.
- F18-FET – Used to diagnose, stage and re-stage brain tumours.
Your PET/CT will be performed under the supervision of a Nuclear Medicine Specialist by a Nuclear Medicine Technician, Radiographer and one of our Nurses.
The images our technical staff acquire are reviewed by a specialist who will report on the findings. Queensland X-Ray has a wide range of medical imaging specialists. Often PET/CT cases are discussed collectively to offer the most thorough clinical analysis.
What happens during my examination
When you arrive for your appointment, our Nuclear Medicine Technician will welcome you and talk you through the procedure.
From start to finish a PET/CT takes around 2-3hours.
When you arrive for your appointment, our reception staff will ask that you complete a questionnaire and sign a consent form. In line with your appointment a Registered Nurse will welcome you through for the procedure. Please be mindful that some patients take longer than others to get settled and your appointment time may vary.
TRACER UPTAKE (60-90MINS)
Once you have changed into a gown our nurse will get you settled in a private uptake room. They will then check your blood sugar level and place an IV cannula into your arm through which the PET tracer will be injected. You will then be connected to an IV line and will be left to watch TV and relax while the tracer is infused. After approximately one hour of rest, we’ll take you through to the PET/CT scanner.
PET/CT IMAGING (20-30MINS)
The PET/CT looks like a doughnut (known technically as a gantry), with a bed passing through the middle. You will be asked to lie on the bed with your arms stretched above your head as it moves through the opening in the gantry.
The PET part of the scan detects the radiation released from the tracer which has now been taken up throughout your body.
The CT part images your anatomy and alterations in its structure such as tumour growth and other changes related to disease.
The PET and CT images are then combined and used together to diagnose, plan or measure treatment outcomes.
The scan will take between 20 and 45 minutes depending on the reason for your study.
POST IMAGING (20-45MINS)
Following your scan you will be offered something to eat and be encouraged to stay well hydrated and use the bathroom as required. We will monitor you for 15mins following the CT Contrast injection and then remove your IV line. In this time we will process your images and print anything that you need to take with you.
The radioactive tracer remains in your system for a short time following your scan, for this reason we suggest you limit the time you spend near children and pregnant women for a few hours afterwards.
After your examination
The results of your PET/CT will be sent directly to your referring Doctor. Please ensure you book a timely follow-up appointment to discuss your results with them.
Medicare eligible scans are Bulk Billed.
There is a private fee for all other scans.