PET scan

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a test that combines computed tomography (CT) and nuclear scanning.

During a PET scan, a radioactive substance called a tracer is generally injected into a vein (usually in the arm) but on occasion may be inhaled. The tracer usually is a substance (such as glucose) that can be used (metabolized) by cells in the body.

A PET scan is often used to evaluate cancer, such as of the lung or colon. It also can be used to evaluate the heart's metabolism and blood flow and examine brain function.

PET scan pictures do not show as much detail as computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Last Updated: August 18, 2009

Author: Maria Essig

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology

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