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Whole Body PET Scan

A whole body PET scan is performed to survey the body for sites of cancer cells. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) provides information on the functioning of body tissues and is a valuable tool for detecting cancer, evaluating heart function and assessing neurological conditions.

The PET Center at UT Medical Center was one of the world’s first clinical PET centers (centers where the equipment was used for patient diagnosis). It has been operating since January 1988, performing more than 11,000 scans.

While a patient lies on the PET scanner's bed, a Nuclear Medicine technologist sets up a PET whole body scan on the scanner console.


Your Medical Test

The patient receives an injection of FDG (fluoro-deoxyglucose) in a vein in the arm and images are obtained approximately one hour after the injection. The scan itself should take approximately 15 minutes for satisfactory images. The patient lies motionless on a bed while, for most patients, images are made from the neck to the mid-thigh. The scanner does not completely cover the patient’s face.

FDG is a widely-used PET pharmaceutical. It’s radioactive component, fluorine-18, has a short half-life (110 minutes) so that the material soon leaves body tissues. It emits positrons that quickly are converted to gamma radiation (high energy photons). FDG consists of a fluorine-18 atom attached to a sugar molecule so that the FDG functions in the body in a manner similar to glucose or sugar. No allergic reactions are experienced with this test.