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Updated on December 23, 2010


As promised on HAD/15, I have been checking out, at request of others and, indeed myself, the difference between a PET SCAN and a CT SCAN. Having my 3rd PET Scan yesterday, a good place to start seemed to be with the Administrator of the portable unit that travels the Region providing scans for patients and avoids them having too much travel to the point of service. In my case this is 7 miles only from base and the unit locates in a handy Car Park at the Hospital.

This is a PET SCAN unit and consists of an operators cubicle, a small office type area for documenting patients on arrival and inserting the required unit to carry the Radioactive material into a vein and thus round the body to enable the process to function. At documentation, I asked the Administrator about the differences between PET and CT. The answer, business like to the point of brusqueness was "PET shows Functions. CT shows Anatomy". To the point as I say but hold the thought as further research unfolds later.

Briefly here, can I explain the process of a PET Scan for your reference, perhaps for the future. After being kitted up, so to speak, the patient is then issued out of the cubicle part of the container to a form of corridor. At one end the exit for the walking, at the other the same, based on a hydraulic lift ,for those wheelchair bound. Down one side are 3 rest chairs and a stretcher unit. Those able to walk take a chair and shortly after seating, an officer appears with the metal cylinder that contains the Radio Active material. The canister fixes to the unit in the arm and the Radio Active material is thus introduced to the body to circulate. This requires around 1 hour to take effect during which the patient sits or reclines at rest to assist the process. 10 minutes before the end of the period, the patient is taken to an adjacent building to empty the bladder and then immediately returned to the unit for Scan.

The scan requires the patient to be supine, trousers to knees to avoid zips and watches etc removed. A knee block ensures the lower legs are down pointing, and the arms are positioned above the head wit one over the other. The procedure then commences as the bed unit raises to enable it to pass easily to and through the 3 foot long doughnut that contains the working parts. Full Scan takes 20/25 minutes and is a far from uncomfortable experience. At the conclusion, patients are then free to leave and their results usually with their Consultant within 48 hours.

So ,what are the different scans? Basically, both PET and CT are diagnostic tools, providing the ability to look inside the body. Radiation is the key and is used to effectively tune to the body radio.As our man stated, CT Scans create a picture of body tissues and structures which are shown up by the radio active dye injected.CT is short for COMPUTERIZED TOMOGRAPHY ,

MRI Scans produce 3 dimensional images and uses super cooled magnets to assist in distinguishing between healthy and diseased tissue.The full name is MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING

PET, or POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY works by securing emissions from positron-emitting molecules. As a result, PET Scans can differentiate between normal and abnormal activity not structure and can thus often determinate between cancerous/ tumour or live versus dead tissue. It can also produce 3 dimensional images and can thereby compliment information from both CT and MRI Scans. This is why PET Scans are so important in the diagnosis and treatment effect recording process of patients like me.

CT/MRI/PET are 3 different ,but often complimentary Scans that are so vital to various conditions and their diagnosis and treatment. My T-Cell Lymphoma being just one.


The time of year draws upon us for Festive cheer and thanks for all who are close to us. Equally, it is a time here to wish each and everyone who has been involved with me over the past 6 difficult months as Carers,Doctors, Nurses, Administrators, Operative Officers, District Nurses and Friends ,everything they would wish for themselves at this time coupled with the hope that for all, Christmas will be truly Merry!


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