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The Differences Between a CT Scan and PET Scan

CT scans and PET scans are both procedures used to create images of the body’s tissues, organs, and bones. However, since they have different uses, these two procedures are quite different.

Radiology

Your physician will prescribe the scan that addresses your needs effectively, but if you’re curious about what they are and how they work, this guide will give you a basic understanding.

What Is A CT Scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan works with x-ray technology to make detailed images of bones, organs and other inner structures of the body. A CT scan shows the shape and size of the organs and tissues. This kind of imaging scan is fast, painless and doesn’t require the injection or consumption of any chemicals.

A doctor may ask you to undergo a CT scan in order to diagnose the root cause of certain symptoms or to determine the severity of an injury. CT scans will expose your body to a certain amount of radiation. While this radiation is generally less than what you’re exposed to during a conventional x-ray, it isn’t usually recommended for kids or pregnant women, except when it’s unavoidable.

What Is A PET Scan?

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan uses a technology called molecular imaging. Before beginning a PET scan, a small amount of radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. This radioactive chemical will travel into your bloodstream and be absorbed by the tissues and organs that are being studied.

Using a radioactive tracer will enable the PET machine to detect your organs and tissues and produce three-dimensional images. Molecular imaging offers a precise way of diagnosing diseases at the molecular and cellular level. That’s why it’s used to detect brain disorders, heart diseases, cancers and any ailments linked with the central nervous system.

What Is the Difference?

The procedures contain some key differences:

  • Completion time: A CT scan is quick, and it can be completed within 5 minutes. PET scans, on the other hand, could take up to 35 minutes for the test, in addition to the setup time.
  • Type of image produced: CT scans produce two dimensional (2D) images while PET scans produce more detailed three-dimensional (3D) images.
  • Technology used: CT scans work with x-rays, which are non-invasive, while PET scans use radioactive tracers called positrons that must be injected.
  • Diagnostic applications: CT scans provide a clear image of bones and tissues, and they can easily reveal abnormalities present in soft tissues. PET scans show metabolic changes in tissues or organs earlier because they show changes at the cellular level. But a CT scan can only show the same change after the disease has started to cause changes in the normal structure of the organs or tissues.

Contact Adams Diagnostic Imaging Today

If you’ve been diagnosed with any type of cancer or you’re caring for a loved one who has, you can trust Adams Diagnostic Imaging for compassionate, professional care. Contact us now for more information on how to get the best imaging services delivered by compassionate staff who work with the most efficient imaging machines.