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PET/CT Scans Available at SLV Health

The Imaging Services Department of San Luis Valley Health is excited to announce the arrival of PET/CT scans to residents of the San Luis Valley.

The PET/CT scan is a new imaging tool that combines two scan techniques in one exam—a PET scan and a CT scan.  PET/CT is mainly used for diagnosis, staging, or restaging malignant disease and evaluating treatment response.  It can also be used to differentiate dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  

PET/CT scans are just the latest of many services offered by the Imaging Services Department, which also offers MRI’s, Diagnostic Radiology, and Ultrasounds, among other services.

Until now, residents of the San Luis Valley had to leave the valley for this type of imaging work. 

“To be able to provide PET/CT scans for our patients is a major step forward for us,” said Fred Casanova, Director of Radiology.  “We are committed to pursuing technological advancements with the goal of shorter patient procedures and clearer images with better results.”

Combining PET and CT scans together will answer questions like: Where is the tumor?  How big is it?  Is it malignant or benign?  Has the cancer spread?


When will SLV Health start offering PET/CT scans?

The first scanning day will be April 15th, then every other Tuesday.  The machine is portable and is brought to SLV Health’s Regional Medical Center. 

How does PET/CT work?

PET/CT combines or merges a PET scan and a CT scan into one set of images.

How does CT work?

CT stands for Computerized Tomography (commonly known as a CAT scan). During the CT scan, the scanner emits X-rays, which go through the patient to detectors. The computer uses this information to generate cross-sectional images of anatomical structures. Your body will not come in contact with the scanner itself. You will be lying on a narrow table, which will move through the scanner or dectors. Each cross-sectional picture or slice gives detailed anatomic location and changes in the anatomy. The use of oral and IV contrast agents can enhance the details by highlighting the gastrointestinal tract (filled by oral contrast) and other organs and blood vessels (filled with IV contrast).

How does PET work?

PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography. PET scans measure metabolic activity and molecular function by using a radioactive glucose injection. The F-18 FDG is injected into the patient. The PET scanner detects the radiation emitted from the patient, and the computer generates three-dimensional images of tissue function or cell activity in the tissues of your body. These functional images can detect disease earlier than the anatomic information gained from CT alone. Like the CT scanner, your body will never come in contact with scanner itself. There are no side effects from this injection and procedure.

All cells use glucose as an energy source. However, cancer cells grow faster than normal healthy cells and they use glucose at much higher rate than normal cells. This is the basis of imaging with F-18 FDG for cancer.

How can I schedule a PET/CT scan?

Please call (719) 587-1231 to schedule a PET/CT scan.