Frequently asked questions about PET, Positron Emission Tomography.
Who should get a PET scan?
Your primary care physician or your referring specialist will determine if a PET scan is appropriate for you. PET scans can be particularly helpful in diagnosing many types of cancer. PET can identify a tumor, detect whether it is benign or malignant, and determine how you are responding to chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments.
PET is also used to help diagnose and discriminate among many types of neurological problems, such as epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. PET can also identify certain types of coronary heart disease. Pregnant or nursing women should not have a PET scan unless their doctor thinks it is essential to their care.
Why would my doctor want me to have a PET scan and a CT scan together?
A CT scan shows your body's anatomy - the way tissues look. PET images show how the body is functioning -specifically, how metabolically active the tissues are. Often, PET and CT together provide a more comprehensive diagnostic picture than either test used alone. This process, known as image fusion, is at this facility.
What can a PET scan do for someone already diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness?
PET is effective in determining not just whether disease is present, but also the extent and the primary site of the disease. So it can change the way your physician manages your care, and often eliminate the need for additional diagnostic surgical procedures and tests.
How much radiation will I be exposed to during the procedure?
You will receive only the minimum amount of radiation required to conduct the test successfully - which is no more than you would experience in any other radiological imaging test. The radioisotope decays quickly after your test. And any small risk is far outweighed by the potential benefits of a PET or PET/CT scan.
Will the PET scan cause me any pain?
The procedure is painless. You will not experience any discomfort, and can relax while the scan is being performed.
What should I expect after the test is over?
Once the procedure is completed you should experience no after-effects, and can resume all the normal activities of your daily life. We recommend patients drink plenty of water to help eliminate the tracers from the body.
Will my insurance cover PET?
Most insurance companies reimburse for PET procedures. It is important that you contact your insurer regarding coverage. Your referring physician, in conjunction with Molecular Imaging Technologies (MIT), will be able to help with specific insurance company requirements, such as referrals or pre-authorizations.
At Molecular Imaging Technologies (MIT), it is our hope that no person for whom PET would be critical to diagnosis or treatment will be denied access to this valuable tool. In the rare instances when medical insurance does not include PET coverage, we work with patients to review a variety of options designed to make PET more accessible.