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What is a 4D PET-CT Scan?

Radiation oncologists at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center have many methods to picture a tumor before treatment. One way is a 4D PET-CT scan.

4D PET-CT combines positron emission tomography (PET) with computed tomography (CT) to take advantage of these faster, more accurate technologies.

It's good for imaging tumors in the:

  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis

What Are the Benefits of 4D PET-CT Scans?


  • Captures the movement of your organs and tumor over time, while also recording the metabolism of the tumor.
  • Creates the most complete and accurate imaging data on your tumor and critical organs.
  • Makes it possible to see the makeup and function of your tumor.
  • Allows your oncologist to see how your tumor moves with breathing and other normal body motions.

By understanding the functional and material aspects of the tumor, your radiation oncologist can conclude which parts of the tumor need more (or less) radiation for more effective treatment.

The result is complete, precise radiation therapy with the least side effects possible.

4D PET-CT imaging showing a tumorNecrotic tumor shown through 4D PET-CT imaging

4D CT imaging showing just organs and no tumor, unlike the 4D PET-CT scan4D PET-CT of the same patient, post-treatment. The tumor has been completely destroyed.


What to Expect During a 4D PET-CT Scan

Taking a 4D PET-CT image is like traditional PET-CT scanning.

  • During the scan, you lie on your back.
  • The scanner takes 4D PET and 4D CT images — one after the other — while on the same table.
  • It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to get all of the 4D PET and 4D CT images.

4D PET and 4D CT images fuse together and show:

  • How your tumor moves.
  • How your breathing affects the tumor.
  • How movement of nearby organs affects the tumor.

Contact Us About Radiation Oncology at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

To learn more about radiation treatments or to make an appointment you can: