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Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT)

What is PET imaging?

Positron emission tomography, more commonly known as a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging test.

PET uses small amounts of radioactive materials (called radiotracers), a special camera and a computer to evaluate how your organs and tissues are functioning. For example, it can measure blood flow, oxygen use and sugar metabolism.

Today, almost all PET scans are performed on instruments that are combined PET and computed tomography (CT) scanners to create better views. The combined scans provide more accurate diagnoses and assessment than the two scans performed separately.

What are the benefits of PET imaging?

Because PET imaging can measure the chemical activity in parts of your body, it can often detect disease in its earliest stage, before it appears on other imaging tests.

Gundersen's PET scanner has special "Q.Clear" technology, which offers much-improved image quality and accuracy. It can detect smaller sites of cancer and see them more clearly.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

PET/CT scans are used at Gundersen to:

  • Detect cancer
  • Determine whether cancer has spread in the body
  • Check if a cancer treatment plan is working
  • Find cancer that has returned after treatment
  • Evaluate brain abnormalities, such as tumors or memory disorders
  • Because tumor cells have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells, they "light up" and appear brighter on PET scans.
Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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