A scan capable of providing a detailed diagnosis of cancer within the body.

PET-CT (Positron Emission Tomography Computerised Tomography) is a detailed scan combining a normal CT scan with a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan. It is performed on the same scanner all in one appointment and provides us with a more detailed 3D image of your cancer.

Why you might need it

The scan uses X-ray technology together with a radioactive tracer to create a 3D picture of the inside ofthe body. The images taken produce adetailed picture of the internal anatomy and function. These images will allow your doctor to plan any treatment required more accurately.

PET/CT scan is an outpatient procedure and can be performed to:

  • Detect cancer
  • Determine whether a cancer has spread in the body
  • Assess the effectiveness of a treatment plan, such as cancer therapy
  • Determine if a cancer has returned after treatment
  • Determine blood flow to the heart muscle
  • Determine the effects of a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, on areas of the heart
  • Identify areas of the heart muscle that would benefit from a procedure such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery (in combination with a myocardial perfusion scan)
  • Evaluate brain abnormalities, such as tumors, memory disorders, seizures and other central nervous system disorders
  • Map normal human brain and heart function

Before your treatment

You must not eat anything for the six hours before the scan appointment time. You must also not drink any meal supplements, liquid food (such as Ensure, Fortisip) tea or coffee, flavoured water or squash during the six hours before your appointment time.

  • You must drink plenty of plain water
  • You must continue to take your usual medication, with the exception of insulin if you are

Diabetic patients

If you are diabetic you should take your usual insulin dose 6 hours before the scan appointment time together with your usual breakfast and then take no more insulin or food.

If you are diabetic you must take food and drink with you in case you have a “hypo” and to eat before you leave the hospital to travel home.

Physical activity:

During the 24 hours before your appointment time, you should avoid strenuous physical activity eg horse riding or exercising in the gym.

Pregnancy or breast feeding

If you are pregnant or think that you might be pregnant or you are breast feeding, please contact the centre immediately.

The procedure

The CT scan uses x-ray technology to obtain an image of the body. The PET scan is a type of nuclear medicine imaging, using a small injection of radioactive tracer or dye which travels through the body and is detected by the scanner as the patient passes through it. Different tracers, called radiopharmaceuticals, will localise in different diseases or conditions and provide detailed information of the internal anatomy and function of the body such as blood flow, oxygen use and sugar (glucose) metabolism. Together the scan will create a 3D picture of the inside of the body enabling the consultant to plan a more accurate treatment plan, providing images that pinpoint the anatomic location of abnormal metabolic activity within the body.

On the day of your PET/CT appointment, you will arrive at the main reception of the Oncology Centre. From there you will be taken by a specialist radiographer to the mobile CT scanner that is located to the rear of the building. You will be given an injection (usually in the arm) of a low dose radioactive tracer. This will travel through the body and allows the physician to measure the activity of cells in different parts of the body. Typically, it will take approximately 60 minutes for the radiotracer to travel through the body and to be absorbed by the organ or tissue being studied so you will have an hour rest period enabling the tracer to circulate.

You will then be moved into the PET/CT scanner and the imaging will begin. The CT scan will be carried out first, followed by the PET scan. The scan itself usually takes 20-30 minutes and the whole process will take approximately 2 hours.

Once you have finished your scan, you will be free to leave, we ask patients not to return to the centre once they’ve had their scan unless absolutely necessary due to the nature of their scan.


It would be a good idea to eat and drink before you leave the hospital.

You may want to bring a packed meal with you. You should continue to drink plenty of fluids for the remainder of the day. You should avoid close and prolonged close contact with children and pregnant women for six hours after the scan.

To get results:

The staff on the PET-CT unit cannot discuss the results of your scan with you.

The scan is usually reviewed within a few days and the report will be sent to the doctor who referred you for the PET-CT scan. Once the results have been discussed with the hospital team caring for you the results will be explained to you.

How much does it cost?

A fixed price for this treatment may be available on enquiry and following an initial consultation.

You can trust Spire Bristol Hospital to provide you with a single, fixed price (1) so there are no surprises. And, through our carefully chosen partner (2) you can even be considered for interest free finance. 

We’re here to help you with making these important choices, so you’re then free to concentrate on your treatment and on getting back to being you. 

(1) Important: Please read Spire’s terms and conditions for full details of what’s included and excluded in your fixed price* when paying for yourself. 

(2) Zebra Finance Ltd trading as Zebra Health Finance , Lincoln House, Stephensons Way, Wyvern Business Park, Derby, DE21 6LY.