Positron Emission Tomography or PET Scan

PET scans can help doctors diagnose a wide variety of conditions. Read about this imaging test here:

PET Scan

PET Scan

PET Scan

What is a PET Scan?

Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, scans are a diagnostic tool used to create images that allow doctors to observe how tissue and organs are functioning. This is accomplished through the use of a a small, controlled amount of radioactive substance called a tracer.

Who needs a PET Scans?

Your doctor may order a PET scan to help diagnose vascular diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, or other conditions that affect the tissue or organs in the body. PET scans may also be used in addition to other imaging tests to learn more about a particular condition. PET scans are used to reveal changes in organ or tissue function, structure, or chemistry that may not be seen with other scans like magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, or computed tomography, or CT.

What are the steps in a PET Scan?

Preparing for a PET Scan

To obtain the most accurate images, your doctor may tell you to fast for a set time period prior to the PET scan. About an hour before the PET scan, you will be given a small amount of radioactive chemical called a tracer. The tracer is used to improve the amount of detail revealed in the scan. The tracer may be administered using different methods depending on the purpose of the test. Often the tracer is injected into a vein in the arm, but it may also be inhaled or taken orally. The patient is given 30 minutes to an hour to allow the tracer to absorb into the organs or tissues being studied.

The Procedure

After enough time has passed, the patient is positioned on a padded table. Once patient is placed in the correct position, which may require pillows or straps, the scanning process is started. Once the machine is activated, the table will slowly move into the tunnel-shaped scanning device. The time it takes for a PET scan may vary, but the procedure usually lasts 30 minutes to an hour. If the patient moves during the procedure, it may be necessary to stop and restart the process.

Monitoring the Procedure

During the PET scan procedure, a technician in the next room observes the procedure and the imagery provided during the scanning process. The patient and the technician communicate by a microphone and speaker during the procedure.


After the scan is completed, a radiologist reviews the PET images and sends a report to the referring physician. The patient and physician will discuss the results of the test to determine a course of treatment.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

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COVID-19 Update:
We are still open and treating patients, however, in order to assist in minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and in order to make it safer for you we have made some changes which, we hope, will be temporary.

Appointments made for office visits will be distanced apart in order to avoid crowding the waiting room.

In addition, we are currently working a reduced office schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:30 AM to 12 noon. If for some reason, you are only able to come in the afternoon special arrangements can be made.

If you call the office and the answering service answers, you can leave a message with them for a routine follow-up and we will call you back. If you believe your symptoms are more serious, then please ask the answering service to patch the call through to me.

For some types of office visits, we also have telemedicine options that can be downloaded for free onto your iPhone. These include Zoom and FaceTime.

Thank you for your continued support during these times and we look forward to serving you in full capacity towards the end of April.


Donald Mackenzie, M.D, F.R.C.S.C, F.A.C.S.