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PET/CT Imaging

Northside Hospital has received one of the nation’s first PET/CT scanners placed in a mobile van, effective May 14 2003, combining the two leading imaging technologies within a single study for detecting cancer.

More than 1.3 million people will be diagnosed with cancer each year. There will be 33,400 new cases of cancer in Georgia alone. PET imaging is rapidly becoming the gold standard for diagnosis and treatment planning of cancer. PET/CT scans provide complete information regarding the exact location, size, nature and extent of cancer – anywhere in the body.

Northside began using PET (Positron Emission Tomography) in 2001, and since that time has performed more oncology PET imaging than any other community hospital in Georgia. PET detects sites of cancer not seen by other imaging modalities, differentiating scar tissue from tumor and benign from malignant lesions. It also produces images showing metabolism or biochemical changes.

“The detailed information that a PET scan provides substantially increases the confidence that cancer diagnoses are correct and complete,” says James Weinstein, M.D.

Through use of X-rays, CT (computed tomography) produces an accurate anatomical image of the body – a “slice” of an organ or particular area. Together, PET and CT reveal a complete picture – providing both anatomic and metabolic information at one time, in stunning detail, to help physicians diagnose and localize cancer.

“Northside Hospital diagnoses and treats more than 3,000 cases of cancer each year,” says Dr. Weinstein. “The fusion of PET and CT imaging on one piece of equipment is the next wave of imaging technology.”

Before having a PET/CT scan, the patient receives a dose of a radiopharmaceutical tracer, which contains a sugar that accumulates in cancerous cells. During the scan, the tracer is detected by the system, creating an image of the patient and highlighting any abnormal physiology. This image helps physicians determine if disease is present, the location and extent of disease and how rapidly it is spreading.

“Combining PET and CT into one process shortens scan times by 30 percent,” says Dr. Weinstein, “therefore, increasing the patient’s comfort.” PET/CT also allows for earlier detection and diagnosis, more accurate staging and localization, and more precise treatment and monitoring.

Appointments are now being accepted. All scans are performed at Northside Hospital and are read by Northside Radiology Associates, P.C. physicians.

For more information about PET or to find a physician who can order the procedure, call Northside Hospital Doctor Matching at (404) 851-8817.

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