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PET-CT Imaging Leads Us to More Informed Decisions about Your Care

PET-CT (Positron Emission Tomography)

What is PET-CT?

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and CT (Computed Tomography) are both important diagnostic tools used to determine the presence and severity of cancers, neurological conditions, and cardiovascular disease, as well as to determine how well cancer is responding to therapy. PET-CT scans are both non-invasive and usually painless.

The PET scan uses nuclear medicine to detect abnormalities in cell metabolism and displays them as "spots" on the radiologists' computer monitor, while the CT scan provides the precise anatomic location of these "spots." By combining the two technologies into PET-CT, physicians can more accurately diagnose and monitor diseases such as cancer, heart disease and brain disorders, while streamlining testing and decreasing the need for invasive biopsies.

How does PET-CT work?

To begin the procedure, a small amount of radioactive glucose is injected into the bloodstream through a small catheter (tube) into a vein in the hand or arm. There is no danger with this injection. Glucose (sugar) is a common substance the body needs in order to function.

After the substance has accumulated in the area of the body being examined, it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. The PET scan detects these rays and forms images of the location. The CT scan uses x-rays to make detailed pictures of the body's internal structure. The entire scanning process takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Using both a PET and CT scan together increases accuracy in detecting abnormalities within the body, which may provide your physician a unique opportunity in initiating a treatment plan earlier.

Facts and Benefits of PET-CT

  • One examination can show all body organ systems
  • Provides pre-surgical assessment
  • Can provide earlier diagnosis of disease
  • Can reduce need for invasive procedures
  • Safe, non-invasive diagnostic procedure
  • Monitors effects of therapy
  • Identifies distant spread of tumors
  • Differentiates between scar tissue and tumor recurrence

Why Mercy Health Saint Mary's for PET-CT Services?

  • Brand new, state-of-the-art facilities designed with your comfort in mind
  • New Philips Gemini TF PET-CT scanner with TruFlight time-of-flight imaging technology and a 64-slice CT for fast, accurate imaging
  • Technologists board-certified in nuclear medicine with specialized training in body imaging and neuro imaging
  • Private rooms equipped with a TV, DVD player, and free WI-FI
  • Warm blankets available upon request to ensure patient comfort
  • Convenient appointment times always available
  • Free, easy-to-access parking
  • Hot, freshly prepared meal after each exam

Which Mercy Health locations offer PET-CT services? 

PET-CT Department                                                                             

Centralized Scheduling    Phone: 616-685-4000   Fax: 616-685-3038                                      

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus
200 Jefferson Avenue SE                                   
Grand Rapids, MI 49503  Map & Directions
Phone: 616-685-6010
Fax: 616-685-8959

Please park in the main parking ramp located directly in front of the Emergency Room. Parking is free. Enter through either the skywalk or the main revolving doors of the hospital. Feel free to stop at our information desk to be directed to Radiology.

What are the patient preparations for these procedures? 

Click here for a printable PDF copy of patient preparation instructions.

Day Prior to Your Exam

  • Follow the enclosed low carbohydrate diet.
  • Refrain from all strenuous activity.
  • Hydrate by drinking exra fluids, unless restricted.
  • Contact your physician if you need medication for claustrophobia, pain or a contrast dye allergy. Plan on bringing these medications with you to the testing center.
  • Glucophage must be discontinued for 48 hours after the injection of iodinated contrast material (i.e., CT contrast/dye).

Day of Your Exam

  • Plan on being at the testing center for approximately three hours.
  • Due to the nature of the medication used, pregnant women and children are not allowed in the uptake rooms.
  • Do not eat, drink (except water), or chew gum for six hours prior to your scan. You may take your regularly, scheduled medications, except insulin, with water prior to your scan.
  • Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing with minimal metal, and avoid wearing jewelry.
  • Diabetics: Do not take your insulin the day of your exam. If needed, contact your physician for specific instructions for controlling your glucose due to this restriction.


  • An IV will be established and kept in place for the entire appointment. A small amount of radioactive glucose (FDG) will be administered, and must circulate for approximately 90 minutes prior to your scan. The scan will take 30 to 60 minutes, and may require the use of oral and/or IV contrast dye.
  • During the circulation of the FDG, you will be in a private room equipped with cable television and a DVD player. Feel free to bring a movie to along to watch.
  • A CD player is available for your use during your scan. You may bring along a CD for your listening pleasure, or enjoy our music.

 After Scan/Receiving Your Results

  • Please drink extra fluids throughout the day to help rinse the contrast due and FDG from your system.
  • Your PET-CT scan will be read by a board certified radiologist. The report is usually transferred to your physician within one to two days but additional time may be needed for your physician to review and correlate with other tests that you have had. If you have not heard anything within five business days after your exam, you can contact your physician’s office.

Re-Scheduling Your Exam
A 24-hour notice is required to re-schedule a procedure. The injection required for your exam is ordered specifically for you and expires very quickly.

Additional Information

More information on PET-CT procedures can be found here.

If you have additional questions, please contact us at 616-685-6010 or view our downloadable documents.