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SCRMCPositron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron emission tomography (PET), also known as PET imaging, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging that measures metabolic activity of the cells body tissues. It is used mostly in patients with brain or heart conditions and cancer, it helps visualize the biochemical changes taking place in the body. Nuclear medicine imaging procedures are noninvasive with the exception of intravenous injections. A PET scan measures important body functions, such as metabolism.

Why is PET performed?

In general, PET scans may be used to evaluate organs and/or tissues for the presence of disease or other conditions. The scan uses a special dye containing radioactive tracers. These tracers are either swallowed, inhaled, or injected into a vein in your arm depending on what part of the body is being examined. When detected by a PET scanner, the tracers help your doctor to see how well your organs and tissues are working. The PET scan can measure blood flow, oxygen use, how your body uses sugar and much more.

Computed Tomography (CT)

Computed tomography (CT) refers to a computerized x-ray imaging procedure in which a narrow beam of x-rays is aimed at a patient and quickly rotated around the body, producing signals that are processed by the machines computer to create cross-sectional images of the body.


CT scans are sometimes done in combination with PET scans. This test is known as a PET/CT scan. For this test, you will be injected with a small dose of a sugar solution that contains very small amounts of radioactive material. This solution is then absorbed into an organ, and the radioactive material makes it easier for the PET/CT scanner to see the insides by highlighting the area it was absorbed into.

PET/CT scans are commonly used to:

  • Track the spread of cancer
  • Assess brain disorders, such as epilepsy or Alzheimer’s
  • Assess disorders of the central nervous system, such as Parkinson’s
  • Assess cardiovascular health