PET/CT – Once More nto the Breach *

PET-CT Scanner
PET/CT Scanner

Yesterday I took my third trip into The Tube since my stem cell transplant. It’s actually two massive doughnuts with a sliding table through the center.

The first apparatus is a CT (computed tomography) scanner and the second a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner. The two technologies are combined in what’s called co-registration. This “fusion” gives radiologists both anatomic (structural) and metabolic (biochemical) information simultaneously.

PET-CT Opening
PET/CT Scanner Opening

“Because the two scans can be performed in immediate sequence during the same session, with the patient not changing position between the two types of scans, the two sets of images are more precisely registered, so that areas of abnormality on the PET imaging can be more perfectly correlated with anatomy on the CT images.”

PET/CT scans are used to diagnose and monitor treatment of certain cancers like Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (my particular flavor). A tracer element is injected into the body, usually fluorine-18 (fluorodeoxyglucose) that is taken up by glucose-using cells. Its concentration will reveal any rapidly growing malignancies.

PET scan animation
PET scan image (click to animate)

PET/CT fusion imaging is most valuable for lung cancer and cancers located in regions of the body that have a complicated anatomy, such as the neck and lower pelvis. These areas of the body contain organs, tissue, muscles, bones, lymph nodes, air, fluids, etc., all in close proximity—making the precise overlay of PET and CT particularly helpful. Similarly, PET/CT can aid in multifocal diseases, such as lymphoma, by providing more exact locations for biopsies and surgery.”

I’ll get my results next week. The status quo would be fine by me.

* King Henry V: Act 3. Scene 1


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