Lung PET scan


What is a Lung PET Scan?

A Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan of the lungs is an advanced imaging technique that can help detect and diagnose serious medical conditions, such as cancer. During the procedure, a radioactive tracer is injected into the body to make detailed pictures of the lungs. This scan can be used to diagnose abnormalities, measure the activity of the lungs, assess the impact of heart and lung disease, and determine the potential for a cancer recurrence.


Before the procedure, it is important for the patient to provide the doctor with information about their medical history. This can include any allergies to medications, food, or substances, previous hospitalization or surgery, and current medications. Additionally, the patient should inform the doctor if they suspect they are pregnant and refrain from drinking or eating anything several hours before the procedure.


The entire procedure usually takes about two hours. First, the radioactive tracer is injected into the patient’s arm, typically followed by a period of rest. During this time, the tracer works its way through the bloodstream to the lungs, highlighting areas of abnormality or disease on the images. When the patient is ready, they will be asked to lie down on a PET scanner, which will take multiple pictures of the lungs. The patient may be asked to hold their breath during this part of the procedure to ensure the best quality images.


The most common type of PET scan for the lungs is known as a Ventilation/Perfusion (V/Q) scan. During this test, two tracers are injected into the body—one to evaluate the airflow to the lungs, and the other to check the amount of blood flowing through the vessels. The results of this scan can offer valuable insight into the functioning of the lungs.


PET scans of the lungs are generally safe and do not produce any significant side effects. However, as with any medical procedure, there is a slight risk of an allergic reaction due to the radiopharmaceuticals used in the scan. Additionally, patients may experience a mild feeling of discomfort or nausea following the injection.

Why a Lung PET Scan?

A Lung PET scan is a valuable diagnostic tool for doctors, providing an in-depth look at the lungs that traditional imaging methods may not be able to achieve. The scan can be used to detect lung cancer in its early stages and rule out other conditions, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. It can also help monitor the progression of diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and assess the effects of treatments. PET scans are also very sensitive, providing much more detail and accuracy than other imaging techniques.

When to Have a Lung PET Scan

A doctor may recommend a Lung PET scan when they suspect lung cancer, COPD, or another serious medical condition. It may also be recommended as a follow-up to further evaluate the results of other tests, such as mammograms, ultrasounds, and CT scans. Additionally, it can be used to monitor the progression of conditions or the efficacy of treatment. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of a Lung PET scan with a doctor prior to the procedure.