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PET/CT

Our Discovery ST PET/CT scanner fuses the technology from the highest resolution Light Speed 16 slice CT and the superior imaging capability of a dedicated PET/CT scanner. The combination of these two state-of-the-art scanners greatly improves the ability detect and localize malignant tumors.

Second PET/CT location in our Ventura office, Coastal Cancer Center.

This exciting integrated technology enables us to perform both the PET scan and CT scan in one sitting, without the patient changing position. The PET and CT images are fused together allowing the radiologist to see malignant activity at a metabolic level and pinpoint its exact location. The PET/CT will enable the physician to determine if an abnormality seen on a CT or other traditional imaging scan is malignant or benign. Additionally, it will assist the physician in determining if there are distant metastases in patients who already have a known malignancy.

  • PET/CT can differentiate scar or radiation necrosis from active tumor
  • PET/CT can determine if a mass/lesion is malignant or benign
  • PET/CT can characterize enlarged lymph nodes as malignant or benign
  • PET/CT can detect malignancy in normal-size lymph nodes or normal-appearing tissue
  • PET/CT can evaluate early tumor treatment response
  • PET/CT has been widely investigated in the assessment of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease can be diagnosed and differentiated.

PET/CT scans can also be used to measure the brainís metabolism. Studies have shown that it is possible to spot Alzheimerís through metabolism patterns on PET/CT scans and may detect Alzheimerís even before significant symptoms emerge. This study can be used in combination with other tests to distinguish memory loss, behavioral changes and other early symptoms from those of other conditions. Detecting Alzheimerís early is important because new treatment options have recently emerged which have been found to slow the progression of disease in some patients.

Medicare has recently approved payment for many PET/CT scan indications. Most private and managed care insurance companies pay for all or part of the procedure. Insurance coverage differs depending on the type of study and the reason the test is performed. We recommend that the patient contact their insurance carrier for details on their specific coverage. Precertification is quite often necessary.

NOPR (National Oncologic Pet Registry) Grossman Imaging Centers is participating in the National research study for Medicare and the American College of Radiology to prove the effectiveness of PET/CT as a diagnostic tool for certain cancers that are not currently being paid for by Medicare in the hope that these will soon also be covered.

Uses of PET/CT on the horizon will include diagnosis for infectious diseases and Parkinsonís disease.

What is a PET/CT?

PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography and CT stands for Computed Tomography, PET/CT is the combination of these two imaging techniques in one exam, a PET scan and a CT scan. Both of these are standard imaging tools that physicians use to locate diseases in the body. The PET scan provides unique information about the biological function of the body before anatomical changes take place, while the CT scan provides information about the bodyís anatomy, such as size, shape and location. The PET/CT scan helps physicians better understand the extent and the exact location of disease. By combining these two technologies, physicians can more accurately diagnose and identify cancer, heart disease and brain disorders. PET/CT allows physicians to develop the best treatment plan for that specific patient. When CT or MRI is negative or inconclusive PET/CT can reveal disease.

Why might my physician refer me for a PET/CT scan?

PET/CT can provide early diagnosis and accurate identification of cancer in your body. During and after treatment, PET/CT can assess whether the treatment has been successful, by showing a decrease in glucose utilization by the tumor. PET/CT can be used for restaging, and provides early detection and localization or cancer recurrence. It can be critical in evaluation of patients in whom previous surgery or radiation therapy has resulted in scarring and distortion of normal anatomy. PET/CT also can be useful for cardiac patients and patients with epilepsy who are being considered for epilepsy surgery.

Is PET/CT covered by insurance?

Medicare and most insurance cover PET/CT for many conditions. *Some insurance covers additional conditions for which PET/CT is useful.

*Disease for which PET/CT is covered by private insurance or Medicare (CMS):

Cancers: Breast, Colorectal, Esophageal, Head and Neck, Lung, Lymphoma, Melanoma & Thyroid.

Non Cancer Conditions: Solitary pulmonary nodule, epilepsy (pre-surgical evaluation), Cardiac perfusion, Cardiac viability

How long is the procedure?

It depends on the type of PET/CT scan your doctor ordered. In general, please allow 2-3 hours for the entire visit. This includes time to prepare you for the scan time in the scanner.

What if I am claustrophobic?

If you have had difficulty with MRI scans and feel the PET/CT may cause anxiety, please ask your physician to advise you. Claustrophobic patients may need to obtain a prescription from their physician before the appointment. If so, you will need to have a family member or friend accompany you to the center to drive you home after any sedative.

Will someone need to drive me?

If your doctor gives you medication to reduce anxiety during the exam, you will not be able to drive yourself home. The PET/CT will not affect your ability to drive.

What about family or friends accompanying me?

People who are not patients are unable to wait in the injection rooms or scan room. Family/friends are welcome to remain in the reception area or come back when the patientís PET/CT scan is completed. Please do not have small children or pregnant women accompany you to your exam. Please make arrangements for childcare if necessary and avoid close contact with small children and pregnant women for at least 4 hours following the end of your PET examination.

What happens when I arrive for my scan?

When you arrive for your scan at Grossman Imaging Centers, the receptionist will check you in for your appointment and provide you with a questionnaire to complete. The Technologist will review your medical history with you and explain the procedure. Please feel free to discuss the procedure and ask any questions that you have regarding the procedure with the Technologist. The Technologist will give you an injection of a very small amount of radioactive material called F-18 or FDG. This substance will absorb into the body similar to the way glucose or sugar absorbs into the body. After the injection, you will rest in a comfortable private room while this FDG goes through your body. You will then be taken into the room with the PET/CT scanner where you will lie comfortably on the scanner bed during your procedure. PLEASE ADVISE US IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO LIE FLAT ON YOUR BACK FOR 30 MINUTES. The Technologist will be there to accompany you out of the imaging area after your scan has been completed.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

To download instructions please click Exam Preparations

  • Wear warm, comfortable clothing that does not have any buttons, zippers or metal.
  • Bring previous PET, MRI, and or CT films obtained outside of Grossman Imaging Centers for the radiologist to compare directly to your PET/CT scan
  • Do not eat or drink, except plain water for 6 hours before the scan, i.e. no food, gum, mints, coffee, etc. and limit nicotine.
  • For 24 hours prior to your exam avoid all foods that are rich in carbohydrates and/or sugar.
  • You may take any necessary medications that can be taken with water and are tolerated on an empty stomach, except for over the counter medications that contain sugar, such as cough syrup or throat lozenges.
  • Diabetic patients will need to watch their diet and blood glucose closely for several days before the exam. It is important to keep blood sugar levels below 150 at the time of your PET examination.
  • No vigorous exercise or hard physical labor for 24 hours prior to your PET Scan appointment.
  • Allow 2-3 hours for the PET/CT procedure.
  • For oncology patients, therapy itself may result in changes on the PET/CT in the area treated. It is important to tell the technologist if you have received or are currently receiving radiation or chemotherapy treatments, including the dates of such treatments.