PET/CT imaging offers fast results with no harm to the patient in the diagnosis, staging, and restaging in many areas of oncology. PET/CT has shown to be an asset to many physicians in determining the treatment needed for their patients. Most insurance companies cover PET/CT scan for lymphoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, esophageal cancer, head and neck cancer, and melanoma.

PET/CT has a high degree of accuracy for detecting the presence or spread of:

• Lung cancer
• Colorectal cancer
• Ovarian cancer
• Melanoma
• Breast cancer
• Brain tumors
• Lymphoma
• Head and neck tumors
• Pancreatic cancer

At Medical Arts Radiology, we offer patients the latest technology in nuclear imaging with the introduction of the GE Discovery ST PET/CT scanner. Medical Arts was the first site in Suffolk County to offer PET/CT, and our radiologists have obtained extensive experience in the performance and interpretation of this important imaging modality.

What is a PET/CT scan?

PET/CT combines two machines in one, so that the physiologic activity of PET can be matched with the anatomical information of CT. The two studies are fused, creating one image. The result is greater diagnostic accuracy in localizing abnormalities than PET or CT alone.

How does a PET/CT scan detect cancer?

PET/CT scanning is performed after injecting radio-labeled sugar (FDG) into an arm vein. After waiting about an hour to allow the sugar to circulate, the scan is started. Since cancerous cells are metabolically more active than normal cells, and therefore use more sugar for energy, they appear as “hot-spots” relative to normal cells. This information, fused with the anatomical CT information, pinpoints the exact location of the abnormality.

PET/CT leads to improved diagnostic confidence and can reduce the need for biopsies and unnecessary surgeries. Diagnoses can be made earlier, with greater accuracy in staging and localization, with more precise treatment and better patient monitoring. Finally, overall patient comfort is increased due to shorter scan times.

What can PET/CT be used for?

PET/CT can be used, as follows, for various types of imaging:


     • Determine benign from malignant in suspicious areas
     • Assess tumor aggressiveness-grading
     • Whole body scan for distant metastases
     • Early detection of recurrent tumors
     • Superior detection of nodal spread
     • Monitor success of therapy


     • Diagnose Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
     • Diagnose Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders


     • Evaluate heart for blood flow
     • Detect signs of coronary artery disease
     • Assess heart function

How do I prepare for a PET/CT scan?

The following high protein, low carbohydrate diet must be followed the entire day prior to your test.

Foods that MAY be consumed:
• Plain Meats: Steak, Chicken, Turkey, Fish (No Breading), Eggs, Bacon, Sausage.
• Green leafy vegetables: Broccoli, Green Beans, Spinach, lettuce and asparagus.
• You may use Olive Oil, Mayonnaise, butter, salt and pepper.

Foods that MAY NOT be consumed before your test:
• Breads, rice, potato, pasta, cereal, fruit, fruit juices, milk, any products containing caffeine or sugar. No sugar free products, coffee, tea, soda, beer, wine or alcoholic beverages.
• Drink water with every meal the day before the test. Three to four glasses of water should be consumed the day of the test. DO NOT DRINK LIQUIDS THROUGH A STRAW.



You may continue to take medication with water. Please advise us if you are on any prednisone or antibiotics.

Arrive on time for the PET/CT procedure.

Bring the following:
• Current insurance card, written Pet/CT order from your physician(prescription).
• Films and reports from any previous diagnostic imaging procedures including X-rays, CT, MRI and any prior Pet/Ct scans.
• Wear warm loose comfortable clothing, no metal such as zippers, buttons, snaps or jewelry should be worn.
• Plan to spend 2 to 2 ½ hours at Medical Arts Radiology. Exam times and procedures may vary with each patient.

What should I expect during this exam?

You will receive an intravenous (IV) injection of the radioactive substance.

The radioactive substance will then take approximately 30 to 90 minutes to travel through your body and be absorbed by the tissue under study. During this time, you will be asked to rest quietly and avoid significant movement or talking, which may alter the localization of the administered substance.

You will be positioned on the PET scanner table and asked to lie still during your exam. Scanning takes 30 to 45 minutes.

Some patients who are being evaluated for heart disease may undergo a stress test in which PET scans are obtained while they are at rest, and again after undergoing the administration of a pharmaceutical to alter the blood flow to the heart.

Usually, there are no restrictions on daily routine after the test. You should drink plenty of fluids to flush the radioactive substance from your body.

You can expect to be at Medical Arts for approximately two hours.

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If your doctor refers you for a PET/CT scan, be sure to request Medical Arts Radiology. To schedule an appointment, contact the Long Island imaging center nearest you or request an appointment online now.