How does it work?
The test involves injecting a very small dose of a radioactive chemical, a radiotracer, into a vein of your arm. The tracer travels through the body and is absorbed by the organs and tissues being studied. Next, you will lie on a flat examination table that is moved into the center of a PET scanner--a doughnut-shaped machine that detects and records energy given off by the tracer. With the aid of a computer, this energy is converted into 3-D pictures. A physician can then look at cross-sectional images of the organ from any angle to detect any functional problems.
What problems can a PET scan detect?
A PET scan measures blood flow, oxygen use and glucose metabolism, which helps doctors identify abnormal from normal functioning organs and tissues. The scan also can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a patient's treatment plan.
PET scans are commonly used to detect cancer, heart problems (including coronary artery disease), brain disorders and other central nervous system disorders.
What's the preparation?
A PET scan usually is preformed as an outpatient. Your doctors will give you detailed instructions on preparation prior to the test. Generally, most patients are told not to eat anything for a minimum of six hours before the scan. Heart patients also are told to not take any product with caffeine for at least 24 hours. It is essential to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant before having a PET scan because of radiation exposure.
Baptist Health Paducah now offers PET scan technology five days a week. For more information, phone (270) 575-2600.