We are proud to offer PET/CT scans in Smithfield to serve patients throughout our community. This advanced procedure can help reduce the risk for more invasive procedures, so that your care and treatment plan can be as comfortable as possible.

Offered at: Johnston Health

What is PET/CT?

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) uses a camera (tomography) to produce cross-sectional tomographic images, which are obtained from positron emitting radioactive tracer substances that are administered intravenously to the patient. The tracer is very safe. Adverse reactions are essentially non-existent.

CT is an X-ray test that generates a detailed view of the anatomy or structure of organs and tissues in the body. The CT scan can show the dimension of vessels, lymph nodes and organ systems.

A PET/CT is one continuous full-body scan. PET captures images of miniscule changes in the body’s metabolism caused by the growth of abnormal cells, while CT images simultaneously allow physicians to pinpoint the exact location, size, and shape of the diseased tissue or tumor. Essentially, small lesions or tumors are detected with PET and then precisely located with CT.

What to Expect

Before the scan, you will receive a small injection of FDG (sugar water with a radioactive tracer). You will sit or lie down on a comfortable chair or bed for 30-90 minutes while the FDG travels throughout your body.

The technologist will then assist you to the scanner and position you appropriately on the table, based on what part of the body is being scanned. The CT portion of the exam is completed first, followed by the PET portion. You will be asked to lie perfectly still. You may also be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds while the CT scan is performed, as any movement may require the exam to be repeated.

The length of the exam is determined by your height and area of the body being scanned, but a typical scan can last 20-30 minutes. When the total scan in finished, the computer will produce images for the radiologist to review.

How to Prepare

Do not eat or drink anything except water for four to six hours prior to your exam. Take any regularly scheduled medicine before you arrive, and avoid vigorous activity for 24 hours before your exam. We recommend that you dress warmly and comfortably.

There are strict patient preparation guidelines for all PET/CT patients, especially diabetic patients, regarding what you can eat or drink before your exam. Please be sure to follow individual instructions from your physician to ensure your safety during the exam.