Desert Imaging

What is a PET/CT Scan?

PET/CT is a powerful imaging tool that combines a PET (positron emission tomography) scan and a computed tomography (CT) scan. PET/CT is used to diagnose, stage, or restage cancer, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. The images provide information about the location, nature, and size of a tumor or mass. The CT’s newer technology and faster scan times result in less radiation exposure to patients. Its wider open design decreases claustrophobia and provides better access for larger patients and radiation therapy planning for cases requiring more space, such as breast cancer.

At Desert Imaging, we use a 64-slice GE system, which features the most advanced technology in the greater El Paso region. During the exam, the patient is first injected with a glucose (sugar) solution that contains a tracer. The tracer is absorbed by the particular organs or tissues being examined. The PET/CT scanner is then able to "see" damaged or cancerous cells where the glucose is absorbed (cancer cells use more glucose than healthy cells). The exam is painless and takes approximately two hours to complete.

pet ct

Scheduling your exam

After your doctor has ordered you to have a PET/CT scan, contact us to schedule an appointment.

study helps your physician diagnose problems, pinpoint the best approach to treatment and monitor your progress.

The sooner you know,
The better

Desert Imaging


Combining a PET scan with an MRI or CT scan help make the images easier to interpret. The image on the far left is a CT scan, while the center image is from a PET scanner. The image on the right is a combined PET/CT scan. This image clearly shows where the bright spot on the chest is located and where that particular incidence of lung cancer is located in relation to other organs.

The wealth of information that a scan provides may enable your doctors to confirm that your treatment is working, or switch you to a more effective treatment immediately.


A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to look for disease in the body. A PET scan shows how organs and tissues are working.

This is a diagnostic imaging study that combines the best features of positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT). PET scans can pinpoint a disease on the cellular level and CT scans record images of the body on a ring of detectors. Together they can produce a series of images that don't show up on conventional scans.
A PET/CT study helps your physician diagnose problems, pinpoint the best approach to treatment, and monitor your progress. If you're not responding as well as expected, you can be switched to a more effective therapy immediately.
And once your course of care draws to a close, PET/CT monitoring can give you the peace of mind of knowing that your treatment was successful.
This entire process will take approximately three hours.
A small amount of sugar, called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is injected into a vein. During the study, different amounts of FDG are absorbed by healthy and diseased cells. Unhealthy cells absorb more and produce gamma rays, which allow a computer to pinpoint and find areas of disease on the cellular level.
You may leave as soon as the scan is complete. Unless you've received special instructions, you'll be able to eat and drink immediately - drinking lots of fluids will help remove any of the radiopharmaceutical that may still be in your system. In the meantime, your results will be prepared for review and the findings forwarded to your physician, who will tell you what has been learned.