About PET Imaging

PET imaging is a diagnostic procedure used to visualize metabolically active tissues. The low level radioactivity can be detected by the PET scanner and then generate images for diagnosis and treatment. PET scan results show the areas of abnormal glucose metabolism and exactly where the disease is located.

All living cells utilize glucose to live and make the building blocks of life. Some cells metabolize glucose faster than others. Cancer cells are hyperactive and divide quickly, and therefore metabolize the injection of the radioactive tracer FDG (Fluorine-18) faster than normal cells. On a PET scan, cancer cells appear "hot" and significantly more prominent than normal cells.

Read more about Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

Is a PET Scan Safe?

Yes, the quantity of radiation is low and the FDG radiopharmaceutical has a short half-life (110 minutes). The FDG degrades quickly so that no detectable radioactivity is present after several hours. In addition to the radioactive decomposition, the remaining FDG is eliminated from the body through urine. Family members are not at risk for exposure since greater than 90 percent of the radioactivity has left the body or decomposed before the patient has left the facility.

Radiation Oncology PET/CT Center
3960 Health Sciences Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093
Tel:  619-543-1998
Fax: 619-543-1975

Center for Molecular Imaging
11388 Sorrento Valley Rd., Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92121
Tel:  858-246-1161
Fax: 858-373-2865