Procedure Locations

What is PET/CT?

What is a PET/CT Scan?

PET/CT combines Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with Computed Tomography (CT) to provide one of the most advanced medical imaging technique available.

A PET scan is a type of nuclear medicine exam that uses radioactive material to measure glucose metabolism, which reveals information about how tissues and organs function. A CT scan uses multiple images to create a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body, providing detailed anatomic information. Together, they provide a much clearer picture of disease than with either procedure alone—and potentially before it is evident on other imaging tests.

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Why would my physician recommend a PET/CT scan?

PET/CT scans may be recommended for a variety of different reasons, including the:

  • Detection or spread of cancer
  • Assessment of response to treatment
  • Detection and location of brain abnormalities
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How does PET/CT work?

You will be injected with a radiotracer (a radioactive substance that your organs and tissues will take up). Parts of the body that use more energy will take up more radiotracer. Since cancer cells use more energy than healthy cells, areas that have cancerous tissue will have a higher concentration of the radiotracer. This allows detection of the diseased cells. When combined with the structural detail of the CT images, the diseased cells can be precisely localized.

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What should I expect during a PET/CT?

During a PET/CT, you will lie on an exam table. A radiotracer will then be injected through an IV. The radiotracer will be absorbed by the organ or tissue in question. This may take up to an hour. You will be asked not to talk or move during this time. You may also be given a contrast agent to help during the analysis. Once the radiotracer is absorbed, you will begin the CT procedure first. During the test, you will lie on the exam table as it moves in and out of a scanner, which rotates around you, taking multiple images of the area being evaluated. You will need to be still during the test and may be asked to keep your hands raised above your head. The Technologist will be in the adjacent room operating the scanner, but will be able to hear and communicate with you throughout. The PET portion of the test is then performed in much the same way as the CT; however, the PET scans capture a blueprint of the body's function at a cellular level. The entire imaging portion of the test usually takes about 45 minutes.

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How do I schedule a PET/CT with Fairfax Radiology?

Contact our Scheduling Department for an appointment:

Phone: 703.698.4488 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm

Fax: 703.698.0864

Or click here to make an appointment request

Please have your written physician order and your insurance card in hand when making your appointment.

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When are appointments offered for PET/CT?

For your convenience, appointments are available at our Fairfax PET/CT Imaging Center mornings and afternoons throughout the week and Saturday mornings. Learn more about this location.

Have questions about your insurance coverage?