What is a PET scan? PET scan’s name stands for Positron Emission Tomography. It is performed to find anomalies within the patient’s body and by doing so – to start an early treatment before they reach an advanced stage. Nowadays PET scan is usually paired with CT (Computed Tomography), therefore another popular name for this test is PET/CT scan. Generally, PET/CT scan is used for cancer detection. During one session, the combined results of these two devices have a higher reliability than when they are performed separately. While it is a popular and safe procedure, people might still have many questions regarding PET scan. How does PET scan preparation process look? How accurate are the PET scan results? Finally – what is the cost of PET scan? We will try to address all these questions and other matters in 5 simple steps.

1. What is the Difference between PET Scan and PET/CT Scan?

PET scan utilizes a small amount of radioactive material, which is injected and then dissolved throughout the body through blood circulation. Therefore, the changes in the patient’s body are traced on a cellular level. On the other hand, CT scan uses X-ray to create cross-sectional pictures of the body. Therefore, PET scan itself, although useful, isn’t as reliable as combined PET/CT scan, which offers a more complex picture of changes that occur in the body and therefore increases usage of PET scan for cancer detection.

2. Is the Radiation in PET Scan dangerous?

PET scan and PET/CT scans do not pose a significant risk for our body. The amount of radioactive material used is minimal and cannot affect human cells. Many patients, hearing that PET scan includes such an injection, react with fear. However, we shouldn’t forget that even in our natural environment there are minimal amounts of radioactive elements. So, there is nothing to worry about.

3. How Does PET Scan Preparation and Procedure Look?

PET scan preparation is not a complicated process. Patients are asked to share all the medical conditions they are dealing with as well as all medications taken. Some of them will have to be put aside for some time before PET/CT scan test. Additionally, people opting for Positron Emission Tomography should neither eat anything nor drink coffee or use excessive amounts of sugar during the last 6 hours before PET scan. Finally, patients are advised to wear comfortable, loose clothes or hospital garment for their PET/CT scan test. The procedure itself is quite short and easy. After injection of radioactive material, patients wait for around an hour. Then they are asked to empty their bladders and lie in PET/CT scanner. Scanning takes maximum half an hour.

4. Are PET Scan Results Reliable?

PET scan itself is very useful for detection of many diseases. Using PET scan for cancer detection is a popular, successful practice. PET/CT scan, combining the findings of both these techniques, makes even more detailed and accurate results possible, analysing body on cellular as well as anatomical level. In the case of some diseases, PET scan is the most successful detection device, helpful in early diagnosis and therefore significantly increases the possibility of full recovery.

5. How Much Can the PET Scan Cost?

As in the case of almost every medical procedure, the PET scan cost varies from country to country, therefore some patients might look for health tourism (medical tourism) and head for some of the popular health tourism destinations in order to pay more affordable prices for Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan). While in the USA the PET scan cost range from 4,600€ to 6,500€, in India it may be as low as 300€. Because of the big difference of prices, more cost-aware patients opt for having their PET/CT scan test abroad.


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