P.E.T. Scan March 2014 (P.E.T. Number 1)
A Positron Emission Tomography scan is a type of imaging test. It uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to look for disease in the body. A positron emission tomography (PET) scan shows how organs and tissues are working. This is different than MRI and CT scans. These tests show the structure of, and blood flow to and from organs.
I will have a number of these scans over the next 6 months.
I arrived at the unit in CUH (Cork University Hospital) with only some knowledge of what these Scan’s are. I have had a number of CT Scans over the past number of years.
I have heard a number of comments and titles for the scans. From Nuclear Scans, Radiation Scans, PET CT Scans. The are actually classed as P.E.T. Scans.
The procedure starts with a questionnaire about previous test, scans, operations, diagnosis and current medication. They include height and weight so that the radiologist can set the right balance for the injection. Blood sugar levels are then measured to insure that the blood sugar balance is correct, the reason behind this is that the injection has a mixture of radiation and glucose.
Glucose is the main type of sugar in the blood and is the major source of energy for the body’s cells. Glucose comes from the foods we eat or the body can make it from other substances. Glucose is carried to the cells through the bloodstream. Several hormones, including insulin, control glucose levels in the blood.
A PET scan uses a small amount of radioactive tracer. The tracer is given through a vein (IV). The needle is most often inserted on the inside of your arm. The tracer travels through your blood and collects in organs and tissues. This helps the radiologist see certain areas more clearly. The main substance is basically Glucose – cancer cells love sugar so glucose is like a magnet to cancer cells. The cancer cells are tagged by imaging process and rated. This mixture of Radiation and Glucose is called a tracer (In basic terms the radioactive particles race the glucose around the body dumping glucose into cancer sites). The PET detects signals from the tracer. A computer changes the signals into 3D pictures. The images are displayed on a monitor for the Radiologist. The test takes about 2 hours pending on “how deep” the scan is. Basically you are given the tracer and left alone for 1 hour so it can circle your body. The basic initial scan would be classed as normal, this takes about 30 minutes but if the Oncologist wants greater detail the he will tell the Radiologist to go deep.Cancer areas basically light up, mine looked like a Christmas tree