• PET/CT Imaging

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) uses a special radioactive material, injected into the body, to see what's going on inside right down to the smallest detail.

  • PET/CT at Littleton Adventist Hospital Photo Credit: Siemens Industry, Inc.

    PET/CT is a safe, non-invasive method for detecting a variety of conditions. PET/CT is used for detecting cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease, infections, and changes in bone structure. It is also used to stage certain neurological disorders such as seizures, dementia and stroke recovery.

    Though the material is radioactive, it has been refined to be safe inside the body. Once injected, the material travels through the body and collects in the organs and tissues. The solution collects in certain areas of the body, which appear brighter on the final image. These bright areas can help physicians identify conditions that are otherwise nearly impossible to detect.

    PET/CT derives its name from the combination of PET and CT scanning. While CT scans look at what's inside your body and where, PET scans look at how things are working inside - specifically how the body is breaking down sugars. This combination gives your doctor the clearest and most accurate images possible.

    Helpful Tips for our PET/CT patients

    Scheduling an Appointment

    We want to make the scheduling process as easy and convenient for you as possible. A PET/CT scan requires a physician referral. Once we receive the order for the PET/CT scan from the referring physician we will call you to schedule an appointment and complete the necessary registration over the phone. With pre-registration complete you will then need to arrive the day of your appointment only 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. Sometimes the urgency of the test precludes pre-registration and then we ask that you arrive 30 minutes prior to the time of your appointment to complete the necessary paperwork. Please come prepared with your insurance card, photo ID and co-payment, as insurance co-payments are due at the time of service.

    What to Expect

    The test begins with a technologist taking your fasting blood glucose level. If the result is within proper levels, an IV will be placed into a vein in your arm or hand. You will be given contrast to drink and the technologist will administer a radioactive tracer through the IV. It will take about an hour for the material to be absorbed into your body. To aid in relaxation and comfort, patients are seated in a recliner with warm blankets. You will have the option to watch television or listen to music on a portable device, but books are not allowed. After the materials are absorbed the technologist will assist you onto a padded table. The scan itself takes 15-30 minutes. The tracer is very sensitive, and the best images are taken when you are completely still. If you have difficulty lying still or are claustrophobic, you may want to discuss the test with your physician first. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is important you inform the technologist before your test begins. While you will be alone in the room during the scan, the technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you at all times.

    What to Bring

    We advise that you only bring essential items to the hospital. Please leave all valuables including jewelry and cash at home. We recommend you bring the following documents: health insurance card(s), picture identification (driver's license or state ID), credit card or check for insurance co-payment, list of medications you take, prior test results or medical records (if requested by your physician) and any worker's compensation information including billing address and claim number (if applicable).

    Parking/On-site Directions

    Convenient parking and entry for patients is located on the east side of the hospital, at the doors marked Outpatient Center, just south of the main hospital doors.

    What to Wear

    Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing without snaps, zippers, or any other metal pieces. Please refrain from wearing jewelry. Dressing rooms with gowns and lockers are available for personal items.


    It is important to follow preparation instructions for a PET/CT scan. Our scheduling representative will provide specific instructions when the test is scheduled.


    Your PET/CT scan results will be sent to your referring physician. For your records we are happy to provide you with a copy of your test on CD.

    American College of Radiology Accreditation Seal
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