We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is PET Scan SUV?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated Jan 30, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The medical imaging test Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan uses radioactive tracer to highlight parts of a body that may have abnormal growth, such as cancers. More of the tracer tends to congregate in areas of rapid cell growth like cancers, and it is this high concentration of radiation compared to levels elsewhere in the body that pinpoint problem areas. The calculation of how much more intense the tracer is at this point compared to elsewhere is called the standardized uptake value (SUV.) Doctors calculate a PET Scan SUV to ensure that suspected problem areas under visual inspection are accurately identified.

A patient undergoing a PET scan receives an injection of radioactive tracer into the body. This tracer typically is an energy source such as glucose. Certain medical conditions like cancers require more energy than normal cells, as they grow more quickly. As a result, the cancers attract more of the radioactive glucose than most other parts of the body. This unequal distribution of radioactivity is visible in a PET scan of the patient.

Although areas of intense activity on a PET scan may indeed be a cancer or other undesirable medical condition, sometimes relatively normal cells can be highly radioactive under the scan. An example of one of these situations is tissue inflammation. If a patient does not follow pre-test instructions to fast, the body's cells, such as the muscle cells, may take up the radioactivity and cause a false positive result.

Doctors may be able to identify the presence of medical issues from a visual inspection. He or she can also employ a PET Scan SUV calculation to make the diagnosis more accurate. This calculation only takes into account the data from the scan and is unaffected by individual doctors' interpretations of results.

For this method of diagnosis, each medical condition has its own SUV. Individual SUVs state how much of the radioactivity gets absorbed by the medical problem compared to the rest of the body. As PET machines can all be different in the way they take the scanning image, an SUV also depends on individual brands of machine. Data from previous tests are necessary for a medical authority to calculate an appropriate range of SUV for each disease.

Normal parts of the body have an intensity of 1.0 in the PET Scan SUV. More intensely radioactive areas have higher readings, such as 2.3 and above, and less intense areas have a value of less than 1.0. Computer calculations of a PET Scan SUV can rule out many false positive identifications, and be more accurate at identifying disease, than a doctor may be able to. An increased level of detection, and decrease in false positives, helps patients get quicker treatment, or save patients from unnecessary treatments.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By JoeKay — On Mar 06, 2016

1.2 (total body) and 1.5 (chest) suv on a 1.5 x 1.0 cm nodule with central lucency found incidently on a chest CT done just as a screen on a smoker. Patient is not a candidate for percutaneous or endobronchial biopsy for at least 9 more months because of post cardiac stent placement, on anticoagulants. A right lower lobectomy was offered for diagnostic purposes. Patient is PPD positive, TB gold negative, and may have contracted valley fever two or three years ago. Chest x-rays have been negative until now.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.