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Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides PET-CT services on the Mass General main campus and at Mass General Imaging Chelsea. No matter which facility you come to, our staff places priority on making your journey through the imaging process comfortable, safe, and successful. All images are read by a radiologist with specialty expertise in the area of the body being studied.
PET-CT in depth
What is a PET-CT exam?
A PET-CT exam combines two types of scans to help pinpoint abnormal activity in the body.
A PET (positron emission tomography) scan creates an image of your body's metabolic activity and shows the rate at which your body's cells break down and use sugar (glucose). This is done by injecting a small amount of radioactive material (FDG) into your blood stream and waiting for it to disperse to the area of focus. The PET scan is then performed to detect the radioisotope and creates an image on the computer screen.A CT (computed tomography) scan is a noninvasive medical test that uses special X-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied.
A PET-CT combines the functional information from a PET scan with the anatomical information from a CT scan. When a CT scan is superimposed over a PET scan, doctors can pinpoint the exact location of abnormal activity. They can also see the level and extent of that activity. Even when an abnormal growth is not yet visible on a CT scan, the PET scan may show the abnormal activity.
PET-CT scans are commonly used to find changes in the body during the early stages of disease and for staging and restaging of cancers.
What should I expect BEFORE my PET-CT exam?
What will I experience DURING my PET-CT exam?
What should I expect AFTER my PET-CT exam?
Dr. James H. Thrall, Department of Radiology chairman emeritus, discusses The Webster Center for Advanced Research and Education in Radiation, a unique research effort dedicated to reducing radiation dose for every exam Mass General Imaging performs.
Each radiologist at Mass General Imaging is a specialist in a particular area of the body. Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, explains how patients benefit from the additional specialty training our physicians have completed.
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