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Choosing The Right PET/CT

Considering a PET/CT? Keep reading to learn about the variety of PET/CT options available. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but Amber’s experts would be happy to help guide you in the right direction!

Slice Count

If you’re on the market for a PET/CT scanner, think about which procedures you’ll be performing when choosing slice count. For example, if you’re an oncologist, any PET/CT system will work fine for you. But if you’re a cardiologist, you’d be better suited for a PET/CT with a higher slice count. However, for gated cardiac studies, a 4-slice system will work just fine for you (and save you some money in the process).

If you’ve bought a CT scanner before, you might assume that a higher sliced PET/CT will mean better scanning times and throughput, but when it comes to PET/CTs the CT part will have no effect, because the PET part of the machine is always slower. This means PET/CT systems’ scan times will be reflected by this and therefore will be reflected by the PET speed.  So choosing which slice is best for you should be determined more by your medical specialty than anything else.


Cooling is another big factor to consider when looking at PET/CTs. Just like a CT scanner, PET/CTs heat up quickly due to the gargantuan amount of electrical components inside the machine. And, just like a CT scanner, you’ll have two options for cooling: Air cooling and water cooling. (We wrote a blog about the difference between air cooled and water cooled a while back with CT scanners, which you can read here).

Air cooling uses open ventilation through the external covers of the gantry via fans. With air cooling, you won’t have to worry about water quality, and there’s a low amount of preventative maintenance. In addition, no external chiller unit is required and it has a smaller footprint over water cooling. With water cooling, there will be fewer concerns about humidity, you’ll have a quieter scanning experience for you and your patients, and a cleaner gantry (with air cooling fans bring in allergens, hair, etc.). In addition, water cooling does not require additional HVAC accommodations for the room itself.


Then you have software options for PET/CT, which can range from Calcium Scoring, which scans heart arteries to find calcium deposits and diagnoses heart attack risk; Respiratory Gating, which allows the PET/CT to compensate for regular breathing movement using foam blocks and a calibrated camera; Time of Flight, which reduces radiation dose and creates faster scan times; and Cardiac Gating, which is ideal for myocardial perfusion studies as it correlates images of the heart with phases in the heartbeat. This is just the beginning when it comes to software options for PET/CT (there are so, so many). And also note that each PET/CT system will support different software options, so be sure to discuss them thoroughly with your provider before making a decision.

Mobile or not?

You’ll also need to figure out whether you need a permanent PET/CT for your facility or a Mobile PET/CT in a trailer. Mobile imaging is great for reaching more remote patients, but you’ll be limited to air cooled PET/CTs because chillers in water cooled machines create more downtime. Mobile PET/CTs have a smaller footprint than ones installed inside a facility, which can be another perk if you’re worried about the environmental impact of imaging. With Mobile PET/CT imaging you would be limited to lower sliced PET/CTs however, since faster scanning means more vibration, obviously a big no-no in a mobile setting.


Feel free to contact one of Amber’s dedicated imaging experts to talk about PET/CT models available, software options, and financing. We’re here to help you choose the very best PET/CT for you and your facility.

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