A PET scan is a nuclear medicine procedure that images the body’s biological activity to detect disease. It is a quick procedure compared to other imaging techniques.
PET scanning requires that a patient be injected with a radioactive trace. This causes apprehension in many patients. However, the radioactive tracer used in the scan is compounded with low dose radioisotope and sugar, making it safe, with minimal to no side effects.
When the radioactive compound is injected in the body, it travels to the site being imaged. The patient will remain still for about 30-45 minutes as the compound moves through the bloodstream to the set location. The signals from the tracer will be translated into images that will be interpreted by a professional.
PET scans are risky for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and people allergic to sugar substitutes or iodine. Radiation can be dangerous to a developing baby or a newborn who is still breastfeeding. If you are allergic to saccharin and aspartame sugar substitute, talk to your physician. They can use an alternate compound.
Bruising and swelling can occur at the site where the compound rests, but it will not last long.
Patients are required to go without food for six hours before their scheduled PET scan. They will also need to stick to a no-sugar, low-carbohydrate, and no-caffeine diet a day before their appointment.
PET may affect blood sugar levels in some patients. Those with diabetes should confer with doctors regarding this.
The bottom line is that PET scans do not have any risks that can cause tension to patients. Everyone is exposed to radiation with just carrying out their daily routines. It can be through taking x-rays or some other exposure. A PET scan may be recommended only once or twice in one’s lifetime, and it uses a minimum amount of radiation. Only those with pre-existing conditions should be cautious and talk to their physicians.