While most people understand that a blood test will take only a few minutes and X-rays not much longer, having a PET scan ordered can be a little more involved. As a patient, however, there’s really no cause for alarm. This highly effective diagnostic tool enables your doctor to see inside your body more readily than an X-ray and can speed up the detection and treatment of whatever condition is causing you problems.
PET scans are generally ordered to check on the health of internal organs, such as the heart. They can also be used to help detect cancer and to track the results of ongoing chemotherapy. In some cases, they are simply used to rule out such issues as heart disease or cancer so a doctor can narrow down the possibilities in making a diagnosis.
If a PET scan has been ordered, there are some things you can do to help ensure the procedure goes very smoothly. Keep in mind, a PET scan is painless. It can, however, be time consuming if you’re not ready for the testing.
Here’s what you need to do to get ready:
- Follow all pre-procedure instructions – Your doctor or the testing facility will likely give you orders before your test. These may include stopping food and drink intake within a certain amount of time before the test. They may also include halting exercise prior to the test.
- Dress simply for the procedure – Leave jewelry and other valuables at home before the procedure and be sure to wear something loose and comfortable. You might be asked to put on a hospital gown, but it’s also possible you can remain in your own clothes.
- Preparing for a wait – A PET scan does require the injection of a tracer fluid into the body. This can take about an hour to work its course. Come prepared to pass the time by bringing a book or magazine.
- Relax – The actual PET scan generally takes only about 30 minutes. During this time, you’ll need to relax and stay still. Try your best to hold positions that have been requested and it should be over before you know it.
A PET scan can help your doctor help you. If one has been ordered, you’ll discover the test is pretty simple, but it can take a little time to complete. Follow orders and it should be a snap.