Shared Medical Services What is PET/CT?

What is a PET/CT? | FAQs and links

FDG is an acronym for fluorodeoxyglucose. It is a radiolabeled analog of glucose. It is the most common tracer used to detect disease with PET imaging.

How does PET imaging compare with MRI, CT and x-ray imaging?
PET assesses functional abnormalities at the molecular level while MRI, CT and x-ray assess structural abnormalities. PET is often able to measure abnormal changes before a physical change can be seen on MRI, CT or x-ray.
What are the applications of PET/CT imaging?
PET imaging is used in:
  • Oncology to determine the location and extent of tumor growth, treatment planning and follow-up post therapy
  • Neurology to aid in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, stroke, brain tumors and seizures
  • Cardiology to determine the perfusion and viability of the heart
  • Surgery to assess an appropriate anatomical location for an invasive procedure
What types of physicians utilize PET imaging as a diagnostic tool?
  • Cardiologists
  • Oncologists
  • Endocrinologists
  • Otolaryngologists (ENT)
  • Internists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Neurologists
  • Radiation Oncologists
  • Surgeons
What are the main benefits of PET/CT imaging?
  • PET/CT can assess the occurrence of disease at the metabolic stage while other imaging modalities only show anatomical locations of normal and abnormal structures. This enables disease to be seen before it begins to look abnormal on other studies.
  • PET/CT can assess a response to treatment as early as after the first cycle of chemotherapy.
  • PET/CT can differentiate post therapy anatomical changes from recurrent disease.
  • In appropriate clinical circumstances, PET/CT can be used as a surveillance technique to detect recurrent disease in high risk patients.
  • PET/CT has been proven to change the way physicians manage a patient’s disease in 1 in 3 patients.
Is the procedure dangerous?
The procedures is not dangerous. Though the patient receives radiation exposure from the injection, it is similar to exposures from other diagnostic imaging procedures. 


American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Radiology Info
The PET/CT Scanning Center
PETNET Solutions


Wondering what your doctor will be reviewing? Click below on a thumbnail to view an actual PET / CT scan.