P.E.T. and Nuclear Medicine
Your doctor has requested you undergo a nuclear medicine or P.E.T. examination. The following information should answer some of the questions you may have regarding the procedure.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is a safe form of diagnostic testing. It is unique in that it provides doctors with information about function. Therefore, it is ideal for identifying abnormalities in the early stages of a disease-before medical problems are apparent with other diagnostic tests.
Nuclear medicine uses very small amounts of radioactive materials, also known as radiotracers, that are detected by a special camera. Computers are then used to reconstruct pictures in the area of the body being imaged. The amount of radiation exposure is similar to that of a general X-ray.
What is P.E.T.?
P.E.T., or Positron Emission Tomography, is similar to nuclear medicine and is used to detect the presence and severity of cancers, neurological conditions and cardiovascular disease. P.E.T. works by measuring the amount of metabolic activity, typically a type of sugar, in certain areas of the body. Because cancer cells have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells, P.E.T. can be used to diagnose, stage, and restage cancer and/or monitor response to therapy based on this metabolic activity. P.E.T. is combined with CT to allow both analysis and localization of active tumor tissue.
What's involved with a nuclear medicine or P.E.T. examination?
Depending on the type of test you are scheduled to have, a radiotracer is injected into a vein, swallowed by mouth or inhaled as a gas. This radiotracer will collect in the area of your body being examined, and will give off energy that is detected by a special camera. You will be positioned on a moveable examination table by a technologist. He or she will then operate the equipment to obtain images, which will provide information to assist your doctor in your care.
The time and preparation required will depend on the exam requested by your physician. A nuclear medicine or P.E.T. specialist will contact you at least one day prior to your exam to provide specific details. If notification is not made, please call 887-7000, and ask to speak with a NM/P.E.T. specialist.
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