PET Scanning (Positron Emission Tomography)
What is PET/CT?
PET/CT scanning is able to detect changes in cell activity and combines this with the fine anatomical detail of a CT scan to detect the presence of disease earlier. It is able to help pinpoint its location with much greater accuracy than with PET or CT scans alone. You will be given a small amount of a glucose that emits tiny particles called positrons. More active cells, such as cancer cells, use more glucose than normal cells and will have higher concentrations of positrons during the test.
Very sophisticated scanners, computers and molecular probes are used to detect the postitrons and produce three dimensional, real time images of the body’s anatomy and function. It is often referred to as molecular imaging.
You should not eat or drink anything but water (including candy or gum) for 4-6 hours before your test. We do recommend that you drink plenty of water. Unless you are on dietary restrictions, you should eat a low carbohydrate diet for the 18 to 20 hours when you can eat prior to your examination.
Please avoid any physical exertion 24 hours prior to your exam. This includes activities such as walking, running, weight lifting and yoga.
You can take any medications prescribed by your physician. If you need to take them with food, you can have a few soda crackers 4 to 8 hours before your examination.
Please let us know ahead of time if you are diabetic so we can work with your physician to prepare you for your examination. If you are or think you may be pregnant, discuss this with you physician ahead of time. PET/CT scans are generally not performed during pregnancy.
What to Wear:
Please wear warm, comfortable clothing as the scanner room is cool. We recommend sweatpants and sweatshirts so you will not have to change when you get here. Avoid clothes with metal or large belt buckles.
What time should I arrive?
Please arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. If you need to cancel or reschedule, please do so at least 24 hours before your appointment.
Contrast Agents in PET/CT:
You will have an IV put into a vein in your arm so that the glucose can be given to you for the test. You will be asked to rest without talking for approximately 50 to 60 minutes as this gets absorbed into your system. Depending on the type of scan you are having, you may also need to take an oral contrast agent.
The actual scan will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
After the Exam:
There are no restrictions or limitations placed upon you after your exam. You can leave immediately after the scan. You may drive and eat as normal. As a precaution, it is recommended that you avoid close contact with infants or with anyone who is pregnant for eight hours after the scan.
How do I obtain results?
Your scan will be reviewed by a radiologist who will send a report to your doctor. This generally takes 24 to 48 hours. Your doctor will discuss the results of the exam with you.