PET-CT and nuclear medicine scans use small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose a variety of diseases.

What is a PET-CT scan?

A PET-CT scan (positron emission tomography and computerised tomography scan) is a scanning technique that combines a PET scan and a CT scan.

A PET scan involves the injection of a radioactive drug (tracer) which is distributed in the body and is imaged by the scanner. For example, a tracer called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is distributed in the body and shows areas of high metabolic activity. This allows the location of the disease to be identified.

PET images are combined with a CT scan to provide detailed 3D images of the body to help identify sites of disease and diagnose conditions at an early stage of functional impairment before there is structural change.

What is a PET-CT scan used for?

A PET-CT scan may be recommended for various purposes related to cancer, including to:

  • diagnose cancer
  • determine if cancer has spread in the body
  • decide on the best cancer treatment
  • assess the effectiveness of cancer treatment
  • check if cancer has returned after treatment
  • plan radiotherapy treatment

The procedure may also be used to:

  • check the effects of a heart attack
  • determine which areas of the heart muscle would benefit from a procedure such as coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty
  • check for inflammation in the heart muscle, such as with the condition cardiac sarcoidosis
  • evaluate brain abnormalities
  • map the function of your heart and brain
  • evaluate prostate malignancies
  • identify infection sources

Types of PET-CT scans we offer

We offer several options for PET-CT scans, including:

  • cardiac PET-CT scan with rubidium
  • FDG PET-CT for infection and inflammation
  • FDG PET-CT for cancer imaging
  • PSMA (prostate-specific membrane antigen) PET-CT for prostate cancer

Cardiac PET-CT scan with rubidium

This scan utilises PET and CT scans to look at the blood supply to your heart using a small amount of a radioactive tracer called rubidium, which is injected into a vein in your arm.

This allows the doctor to view your heart under stress and rest, to assess whether there is any occlusion (blockage) or shortage of blood supply. The key benefits of using this tracer are:

  • that it is a short, one-hour test in total (stress and rest)
  • reduced radiation dose to patients
  • suitable for patients with high body mass index (over 35)
  • absolute myocardial blood flow quantification during stress and rest
  • improved diagnostic/prognostic accuracy
  • ability to perform a CT coronary angiography (CTCA) in the same appointment


This scan involves injecting a very small amount of FDG tracer. This tracer is taken up by parts of your body which use more energy such as infection, inflammation, or cancerous tumours.

There are no immediate side effects, and the distribution of the tracer helps your doctor to understand and diagnose any health problems you have been experiencing; this will then help them decide on further treatment for you.


In a similar way to the PET-CT FDG, the PET-CT using the PSMA tracer is a medical imaging test that can help detect cancerous cells in the body. This tracer is specifically designed to target prostate cancer cells and is commonly used to diagnose and monitor prostate cancer treatment. This helps your doctor better plan your treatment path.

PET-CT scan preparation

Depending on the clinical question, you will be planning for a specific PET-CT scan. You will be asked to follow specific instructions by our team. This may sometimes involve preparation starting 24 to 48 hours before your scan. Please read the information sent to you with the appointment letter that explains scan-specific do’s and don’ts.

Aim to arrive at your PET-CT scan 15 to 30 minutes before your appointment. Upon your arrival, we will ask you to fill in the necessary information and explain the test to you.

How is a PET-CT scan performed?

The procedure starts with taking your history and confirming your details, an explanation of the procedure followed by an intravenous injection of a tracer (radioactive material). Rest assured that this radioactivity is as low as possible but sufficient to give diagnostic information on our scanner.

Depending on the type of scan, you may spend 1-2 hours with us, and we will explain the next steps as we take you through the procedure.

During the scan, you’ll lie on your back and stay as still as possible. Images of your body will be captured using a nuclear medicine scanner to record the distribution of radioactive material in your body. This will be accompanied by a CT scan which takes a few minutes. The scan may take up to one hour, and you will be able to return home afterwards.

Because the tracer emits small levels of radiation, after the scan you’ll be given instructions as a precaution. These may include:

  • not breastfeeding for 24 hours
  • staying at least 3 ft away from young children or pregnant women for 5 to 6 hours

PET-CT scan results

After your study is reviewed by a specialist doctor, the results will be sent to your referring consultant, who will discuss them with you. You won’t get your results immediately after your scan. It can typically take between 1 to 3 days before they are ready – you can confirm the waiting time with your doctor. If a treatment intervention is required because of the test identifying a condition, your doctor will talk you through the next steps.

PET-CT scan pricing

The cost of your PET-CT scan will depend on several factors, including the type of scan performed. Pricing is as follows:

  • cardiac PET-CT scan with rubidium: £2,742
  • FDG PET-CT scan: £3,031
  • cardiac sarcoidosis package (PET scan with rubidium and FDG PET scan): £4,669
  • PSMA PET-CT scan: £3,084
  • myocardial perfusion SPECT study: £1,343


Our PET-CT and nuclear medicine team comprises highly skilled professionals, including respiratory medicine and cardiology specialists.