PET/CT is a Nuclear Medicine scan which shows the chemical function of an organ or tissue as well as structural images of the organ in a 3D image. This makes detecting even the smallest disease 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, making us the largest provider of this imaging technique.
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 amounts of tumour 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?
The preparation for a PET/CT is very specific and requirements are dependent on the reason for 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.
Technology and Team
Your PET/CT will be performed by a Nuclear Medicine Technician, Radiographer and one of our Nurses.
The images the Technician captures are viewed by a Nuclear Medicine Physician and Radiologist who make the diagnosis together. At Queensland X-Ray we also have several dual-trained Nuclear Medicine Physician and Radiologists.
What happens during my examination
When you arrive for your appointment, our Nuclear Medicine Technician will welcome you and talk you through the procedure.
You’ll then be introduced to one of our Nursing team who will place an IV into your arm through which a small amount of radioactive tracer will be injected. You may feel a cool feeling for a moment as the radioactive tracer and saline solution enters your body. This is perfectly normal. Over the course of the day this solution will be naturally absorbed by your body with no side effects.
Following this, you will be made comfortable in one of our sub-waiting areas where you can watch TV and relax while the tracer moves through your body and is collected in areas where there may be disease. In a PET/CT we image the whole body.
After approximately one hour, we’ll take you to the PET/CT scanner.
The PET/CT looks like a doughnut (the technical word for it is 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 gantry is about 1.5m in length.
The PET part of the scan detects the radiation released from the tracer which is absorbed into parts of 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.
Following this scan, you are encouraged to stay hydrated, eat normally and use the bathroom as required.
Because the radioactive tracer remains in your system for a short time following your scan, 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.
We Bulk Bill all Medicare-eligible scans for pensions and health care card holders.
There is a private fee for all other scans.