Positron Emission Tomography Center
Phone: (602) 839-4229
Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.–8 p.m.
Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, is an important imaging technique that helps doctors diagnose end-stage cancer and gain unique, valuable information about heart disease and brain disorders. PET also plays a major role in research at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, particularly in solving the mysteries of Alzheimer's disease.
Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix opened the first PET facility in Arizona in 1991, one of a handful in the country at the time. The experience and expertise of the staff—developed in helping thousands of patients with complex health issues—is simply unmatched in the state.
Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix technicians make a patient's visit to the PET scanner comfortable.
The PET scanner is very different from such diagnostic imaging procedures as computerized axial tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasounds and X-rays, which show the physical structure of bones, organs and tissues inside the body. PET can display where certain chemical processes are taking place and therefore show the various organs at work in the body.
Information obtained from PET procedures is important to physicians because the detailed pictures can tell them if organs and tissues are diseased or healthy.
Cancer specialists routinely use PET technology to more accurately determine the location, extent and growth rate of malignant tumors (particularly brain tumors). PET helps heart specialists identify appropriate patients for interventional cardiology procedures, such as coronary bypass surgery or a balloon angioplasty. Neurosurgeons often rely on PET to help "map" a complex brain surgery.
How PET Works
The body relies on glucose for energy. Before a PET scan, a patient is injected with a harmless radioactive glucose/water solution, called a "tracer." Once the tracer is inside the body, the patient is positioned into the PET scanner.As the body processes the tracer compound, positrons begin to collide with electrons, causing gamma rays to be emitted. These gamma rays are detected and measured by the PET scanner/ A computer uses the measurements to create pictures of the various organs at work within the body. The images allow physicians to differentiate healthy tissue from unhealthy tissue.
The PET scanner itself does not produce any radiation. It merely picks up signals from the tracers already in your body.
PET is playing a major role in research on the causes of Alzheimer's disease and soon will assist physicians in developing medications to slow the progress of the disease.
What to Expect
Although the amount of radiation you will receive carries no known ill effects, we prefer not to expose a fetus or young infant to unnecessary radiation. The technician will also need to know if you are diabetic and which prescribed medications you are taking.
Prior to your PET scan, our staff will discuss your particular procedure with you in detail so you will know exactly what to expect. Every effort is made to make patients as comfortable as possible.
Your visit should last two to three hours, although you will not be in the scanner the entire time. To make your visit more comfortable, wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment and feel free to bring a friend or family member. At some point, your visitor will have to wait in the waiting room, however we will allow them to be with you as much as possible.
Once your scan is complete, you will be encouraged to drink fluids and urinate frequently to help flush the tracer solution from your body.