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PET Scan, Its Uses And Possible Risks

A positron emission tomography scan is a diagnostic imaging technique which helps reveal the metabolic or biochemical functions of your body organs. The PET scan uses a radioactive tracer. This tracer is injected into your veins by arm or hand. Your body will absorb the tracer and the resultant images produced are more clearer. PET scan is often combined with other imaging  techniques and used as a hybrid technique such as a PET-CT scan and PET-MRI scan which can further increase the quality of images.

Uses of PET Scan

A PET scan is used to diagnose various conditions pertaining to different organs such as 

  • Cancer

A PET scan can help show certain parts of the body where cellular activity is high. The cancerous cells are usually more active and take up more of this radioactive tracer which helps your doctor to determine the cancerous state. It can also tell certain other things about a cancer such as 

  • Foremost is detection of cancer
  • It can help determine the spread of the cancer
  • To pinpoint the location of the caner
  • To check if the cancer treatment is effective or not
  • To check for cancer metastasis
  • To know if the cancer has recurred
  • To determine the prognosis

PET scan has a limitation that it doesn’t effectively differentiate between the cancerous and non cancerous conditions. These non cancerous conditions often look like cancer. Another limitation that PET scan possesses is that certain ear;ly cancers might not get revealed on the scan images. 

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Other types of solid cancers that a PET scan and its hybrid techniques can determine are

  • Breast cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Lymphatic system cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Heart Disease

PET scans are sufficient and capable of detecting any decrease in blood flow to the heart. These informations can help your doctor to determine the treatment procedure also it can help your doctor to predict whether you are going to benefit from certain heart procedures like coronary artery bypass surgery or other procedures like angioplasty(procedure opted to open the clogged heart arteries or vessels)

  • Brain disorders

PET scans are quite capable of detecting and checking certain disorders pertaining to the brain such as tumours, Alzheimer’s disease and seizures etc.

What Are The Risks And Side Effects Associated With PET Scan?

The PET scan is generally safe as it is conducted by a professional and trained personnel and it is conducted under the safety guidelines. Also the amount of radiation that you are exposed to during the scan are under safety limits. There are certain facts about the PET scan that you should know about such as

  • If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or chestfeeding, you should avoid getting the scan as it may harm your foetus and your child. Also, you should avoid getting close to a pregnant lady or children or should avoid feeding your breastfeeding child until the time the tracer has gone out of your body.
  • Certain people can develop allergic reactions to contrast medium. Those allergic reaction may manifest as
    • Redness
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Warm skin
    • Dizziness
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Lightheadedness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Headaches etc.
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Allergic reactions can be moderate to mild, which may not need much attention and get resolved by themselves with proper medication. Some moderate to severe allergic reactions need immediate care such as anaphylactic shock state.

  • If you are diabetic patient, your body might absorb more of the tracer as the tracer is a sugar base only known as the fluorodeoxyglucose. Which may lead to faulty results. You might need to modify your diet and medications for a certain period of time.


The PET scan has a great diagnostic value and the advancement of technology has brought to us the hybrid PET-CT and PET-MRI scan which further enhance the quality of images that help  your doctor in diagnosis, hence a correct diagnostic result has a major value in determining the diagnosis and treatment plan as well. Ganesh diagnostic and imaging centre stands the best diagnostic centre in delhi that offers 100% correct results, PET Scan at affordable cost and timely report delivery.

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