Skip to Content
UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital
DONATE Donate
SHARE TEXT

PET Scan

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a test that uses a special type of camera and a tracer (radioactive chemical) to look at organs in the body.

During a PET scan, the tracer is typically injected into a vein (usually in the arm), but sometimes it may be inhaled. The tracer usually is a special form of a substance (such as glucose) that can be used (metabolized) by cells in the body.

A PET scan is often used to evaluate cancer, such as of the lung or colon. It also can be used to evaluate the heart's metabolism and blood flow and examine brain function.

PET scan pictures do not show as much detail as computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Last Revised: July 14, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.