PET scan


What is a PET scan?

A PET scan is a new type of scan which can provide very useful information. PET is short for Positron Emission Tomography. It is different from CT and MRI scans as it can provide information about function ie how well parts of the body are working. 


Why is it used?

The information provided by a PET scan can then be looked along side other scans and can provide a more complete picture as to what is happening inside a patients body.


How is it performed?

A small volume of radioactive tracer is injected into a vein. It is very similar in structure to sugar and is taken up by tissues inside the body. There are no long lasting effects of using the radioactice tracer and it does not make patients feel ill. Patients are instructed not to eat anything for 6 hours before the scan, this is very important. The scan will give false results if these instructions are not followed. You will be provided with full instructions when given your appointment.


The time taken to perform the scan is around 2-3 hours. It takes this long as the tracer needs to be taken up into the bodies tissues perform the images can be taken.  Not all this time will be spent inside the scanner.


Where is it performed?

The PET scan machine is located at the University of Brighton campus at Falmer.


When will I get the results?

After the scan is performed it takes a few days to analyse the results. A report is produced and sent to your Doctor, this takes abouta week in total.


Further information

PET scanning at NHS choices



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Written by: Dr T Rider

Editor: Dr J Newman

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