Chest PET scan; Lung positron emission tomography; PET - chest; PET - lung; PET - tumor imaging
A lung positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance (called a tracer) to look for disease in the lungs, particularly lung cancer.
A PET scan requires a small amount of radioactive material (tracer). This tracer is given through a vein (IV), usually on the inside of your elbow. It travels through your blood and collects in organs and tissues. The tracer helps the radiologist see certain areas or diseases more clearly.
You will need to wait nearby as the tracer is absorbed by your body. This usually takes about 1 hour.
Then, you will lie on a narrow table, which slides into a large tunnel-shaped scanner. The PET scanner detects signals from the tracer. A computer changes the results into 3-D pictures. The images are displayed on a monitor for your doctor to read.
You must lie still during test. Too much movement can blur images and cause errors.
The test takes about 90 minutes.
You may be asked not to eat anything for 4 - 6 hours before the scan. You will be able to drink water.
Tell your health care provider if:
Always tell your health care provider about the medicines you are taking, including those bought without a prescription. Sometimes, medications may interfere with the test results.
You may feel a sharp sting when the needle containing the tracer is placed into your vein.
A PET scan causes no pain. The table may be hard or cold, but you can request a blanket or pillow.
An intercom in the room allows you to speak to someone at any time.
There is no recovery time, unless you were given a medicine to relax.
This test may be done to:
A normal result means the scan did not show any problems in the size, shape, or function of the lungs.
The amount of radiation used in a PET scan is low. It is about the same amount of radiation as in most CT scans. Also, the radiation doesn't last for very long in your body.
Women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding should let their doctor know before having this test. Infants and babies developing in the womb are more sensitive to the effects of radiation because their organs are still growing.
It is possible, although very unlikely, to have an allergic reaction to the radioactive substance. Some people have pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site.
It is possible to have false results on a PET scan. Blood sugar or insulin levels may affect the test results in people with diabetes.
Most PET scans are now performed along with a CT scan. This combination scan is called a PET/CT.
Other tests that may be done instead of a PET scan include a gallium scan, CT scan, or MRI scan.
Silvestri GA, Jett JR. Clinical aspects of lung cancer. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 47.
Gould MK, Fletcher J, Iannettoni MD, Lynch WR, Midthun DE, Naidich DP, Ost DE. Evaluation of patients with pulmonary nodules: When is it lung cancer? ACCP Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines (2nd Edition). Chest. 2007;132:208S-130S.
Wahl RL. Imaging. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingston;2008:chap 21.
Kieninger AN, Welsh R, Bendick PJ, Zelenock G, Chmielewski GW. Positron-emission tomography as a prognostic tool for early-stage lung cancer. Am J Surgery. 2006;191:433-436.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885