PET Scan vs CT Scan

Difference Between a PET Scan and CT Scan

Patients referred for a PET or CT scan may wonder what the difference is between the two. While both are imaging tests that can provide valuable information about the body, there are some critical ways in which they differ.

Read on to learn more about the differences between the function of PET and CT scans.

View of a PET scan patient exam table from inside a PET Scan machine.

How CT Scans Work

A CT scan uses a narrow X-ray beam that encircles your body to produce pictures of the inside of your body. A detector picks up the X-rays as they pass through your body and a computer makes cross-sectional images (often called slices) of the area. CT scans can produce images of many different parts of the body, including your head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues.

How PET Scans Work

PET scans also use X-rays, but instead of taking pictures of the structure of your body, like a CT scan, a PET scan looks at the functioning of your cells. This imaging technique uses special technology that detects signals given off by radioactive tracers injected into your bloodstream. These tracers are made from radioactive glucose molecules that “light up” areas of abnormal cell function.

A PET scan is often used in combination with a CT scan to provide more information about an area of interest on the CT. These types of imaging are generally used to create images that can be used to diagnose medical conditions.

PET Scan vs. CT: Other Differences to Consider

While CT and PET scans both use X-rays and can provide detailed images of the body, there are some critical differences between the two exams. Here’s what you should know:

  • CT scans take less time to complete than PET scans
  • CT scans expose you to more radiation than PET scans
  • CT scans are more widely available than PET scans
  • PET scans are more expensive than CT scans

Now that you know the difference between PET and CT scans, you can discuss which exam is most suitable for you with your doctor.

Cardiac PET and CT Scans – Available Where You Are

Cardiac Imaging, Inc. offers high-quality PET and CT scans for patients in Los Angeles and throughout the United States. We use the latest imaging technology to produce accurate, detailed images of the heart and cardiovascular system. Our experienced technicians will work with each patient to ensure they receive the best possible care.

If you’re a medical professional interested in learning more about our cardiac pet scan mobile unit, call us today at (800) 998-2035.