PET/CT scanning is continuously growing, but it still requires more understanding by patients to follow the instructions correctly. Before the examination, an explanation of the procedures, side effects, duration of treatment and other instructions need to be communicated to the patient. High anxiety can affect the experience of the patient and interfere with the workflow of the medicine. Changes in physiological parameters caused by anxiety may also affect the bio-distribution of 18F-FDG and interfere with the accurate results of the PET/CT.
Improved information before going through PET/CT scanning can enhance the experience for the patient. Unprepared patients may lead to delayed examinations and postponed treatment with difficult consequences for the patient. Better information gives a patient the tools to get through the exam, which will help to increase the quality of the image material. A dissertation at Uppsala University recently demonstrates how medical care can improve the experience of a patient and also the outcome of the exams. The study was conducted as follows:
- The first sub-study had care patients provided with online information in advance, with text and pictures that explained the process, the preparations necessary and why they had to follow the instructions of the medical staff. The outcome showed that the materials were of help to the patients before the examination and provided the support for managing their anxiety during the scanning process.
- The second study found out that many of the patients with head and neck cancer who were put in a fixation mask felt abandoned and were longing to communicate with medical staff during the examination.
The study indicates that medical care should be patient-oriented to help patients better understand their experiences with PET/CT scans. Small efforts to enhance interaction and care can have major significance for patients in their experiences with the whole medical processes.