What is PET-CT

PET-CT is an integrated equipment of medical imaging. It combines two types of scanning: PET (positron emission tomography), used to obtain functional data concerning the metabolism and cell functions and CT (computer tomography), used to obtain morphological data concerning the location and anatomical relations between the evaluated pathologic substrata.​

PET-CT scanning is used to diagnose, locate, stage the evolution of the tumour, and assess the efficiency of the treatment in oncologic diseases. PET-CT equipment is used in particular in the fields of oncology and cardiology.

Discovery 610 HD PET-CT manufactured by General Electric, the device used in Neolife Medical Center, is one of the most performant devices available worldwide, designed to perform quick and very accurate scans, with very small doses of radiations.

Advantages of PET-CT

  • High resolution medical imaging which allows a perfect visualisation of sick tissues
  • Shortens the duration of examination
  • Allows the diagnosis of cancer in the early stages, before other methods of investigation
  • Allows early diagnosis of relapses and metastases, including those that are difficult to detect by using other diagnosis procedures

Importance of PET-CT

  • PET-CT examination allows early diagnosis and precise identification of cancer, as well as its extension (metastases). During and after the completion of treatment, PET-CT examinations can assess whether the therapy was successful, by showing the decrease in use of glucose by the tumour.
  • PET-CT can also be used for restaging in case of cancer reoccurrence, by early detection and location. It is useful in evaluating patients that had undergone surgery or radiotherapy sessions which lead to the formation of scars and alteration of anatomical structures.

In conclusion, PET-CT provides information about the location of the tumour and its expansion, thus enabling the physician to offer the best treatment plan

How is the PET-CT image formed

For PET examination, a glucose molecule marked radioactively with fluorine (18F) – 18F-2 fluoro-2-deoxy-D- glucose – with the acronym FDG is used, which allows the visualisation of metabolic activity and reveals functional changes that occur, in many cases, before the anatomical and structural changes take place.

The PET device detects very small quantities of radiations, which it converts in images of the body. There is no alternative method to PET examination that could provide the same information.

A small quantity of FDG is injected through an intravenous catheter. This compound is not toxic, has been approved for certain medical procedures, and no side effects have been reported.

Afterwards, in order to ensure the efficiency of the examination, the patient is required to lie down on a couch, relaxed, without talking or moving, alone in the room (without a companion), throughout the duration of the waiting period (60 minutes), until they are lead to the examination room.

The PET-CT investigation lasts on average 2 hours, of which the actual scanning (the time the patient spends in the device) is approximately 30-40 minutes.

PET and Oncology

PET scanning also proves to be cost-efficient in oncology, because it can:

  • Eliminate invasive procedures, such as biopsy, by confirming or ruling out cancer.
  • Eliminate certain surgical procedures that are not necessary, by making possible to characterise tissues and locate tumours.
  • Locate by scanning the whole body, metastases that were unknown prior to the investigation, thus helping in determining the patient’s condition, whenever it is required.
  • Eliminate many tests, because PET sensitivity and specificity are considerably higher for PET than for other methods of diagnosis.
  • Improve the efficiency in time of therapy by early approach, due to the detection of functional changes before the anatomical changes occur.

At present, in many countries with high medical standards, PET has become a fundamental component of oncology, making diagnosis faster and more efficient, saving money, time, and, most importantly, LIVES.

PET CT Medical Team - Neolife Bucharest