Resources

Q

What is a PET scan?

A

PET is a nuclear medicine technique, which captures images of the human body’s function and reveals information about disease. With PET scan imaging, physicians can collect images of function throughout the entire body, uncovering abnormalities that might otherwise go undetected. No other imaging technique shows the internal metabolism of the body so well. Often times, PET can detect and stage most cancers before they are evident through other tests such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scan. PETalso can give physicians important information about heart viability and neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, seizure disorders and brain tumors.

PET is a reliable, non-invasive way to tell whether or not a tumor is benign or malignant. PET scan imaging evaluates for cancer in a single examination, which allows physicians to stage a cancer and to suggest treatment options earlier, which may spare patients expensive and often painful surgical procedures.

Q

How does PET work?

A

When disease strikes, the metabolism of tissues and cells changes. Using a tracer drug to highlight areas within the body, a PET scan picks up a signal from the organs. If an area in an organ is abnormal, the metabolism will be different than in the surrounding tissues. This data is computer processed and made into images.

Q

What should I expect during my PET scan?

A

Specific instructions will be given to you at the time you are scheduled for your PET scan. In most cases, we will ask you not to eat or drink anything for 8-12 hours prior to your scan. If you are diabetic, please inform the PETstaff so special arrangements can be made to meet your specific needs.

PET procedures routinely require an intravenous injection of the tracer material. This necessitates a needle stick in an arm or hand vein, much like when having a blood sample drawn or when getting an “IV” line.

During the PET scan, you must lie down and remain very still for varying amounts of time, depending upon the procedure chosen for you. Some patients get stiff from keeping still, while others may fall asleep. The technologist performing the study will go over the procedure intended, so you will know the details of what to expect and what is expected of you.

Q

Will my PET Scan be covered by my insurance?

A

Medicare as well as many third party payers reimburse for PETscans.

The most recent Medicare policy covers PET scans of the following cancer groups:

  • Diagnosis, staging and re-staging of non-small cell lung cancer
  • Diagnosis, staging and re-staging of colorectal cancer
  • Diagnosis, staging and re-staging of cervical cancer
  • Diagnosis, staging and re-staging of esophageal cancer
  • Diagnosis, staging and re-staging of melanoma (not covered for the evaluation of regional lymph nodes)
  • Diagnosis, staging and re-staging of head and neck cancers (not covered for central nervous system or thyroid cancers)
  • Staging and re-staging of breast cancer
  • Characterization of solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs)
  • Diagnosis, staging and re-staging of lymphoma
  • Restaging of recurrent/residual thyroid cancers after thyroidectomy and ablation under specific conditions (please contact us to find out if you meet the specific requirements to qualify)

PET is not covered for other diagnostic uses and is not covered for screening (testing of patients without specific symptoms).