Positron emission tomography is a 3D picture of your body. Patients get a mildly radioactive drug that helps to highlight highly active cells.
The scan helps to know whether there is a lump or not, screen for cancer, find out if treatment is working, examine the stage of cancer, and to decide on the best treatment method.
Avoid eating 4 – 6 hours before the scan. Keep away from strenuous exercise a day before the treatment. Keep in touch with your physician in case of pre-existing conditions like diabetes or any other concerns.
First, the radiographer gives you a hospital gown, and then they inject you with a radiotracer (small amount of radioactive liquid). The injection is given an hour before the scan. For the liquid to spread throughout your body, you must avoid a lot of movement.
Cancer cells are very active when growing, so; they need plenty of energy. Since the radiotracer is a form of sugar, the cells ingest the sugar. During the scan, the cancer cells appear brighter due to the sugar.
Metallic objects such as jewelry, belt, wired bra, coins, and hair clips, interfere with the quality of images, so you should remove them before the procedure.
Once you are ready for the scan, the radiographer goes to the control room and leaves you lying on the PET’s machine coach. He observes you through the window or on a TV screen.
The procedure is painless, but you must be still. The machine takes several pictures as you move forward and backward through the scanner. After the scan, the radiographer helps you out from the equipment.
The procedure is an outpatient service, so you go home and eat and drink normally. However, drimk plenty of fluids to help flush out the radiotracer. Minimize contact with pregnant women, young children, and babies 6 hours after PET. Do not drink alcohol, drive, or operate heavy machinery.
Traces of radiations from the radiotracer remain active for nearly a week after the procedure. So, if you are traveling abroad, carry your PET appointment letter in case the radioactive sensitive radiation monitors sense the radiations.
- Breastfeeding mothers should not breastfeed for some time after the procedure. Talk to your physician about it.
- Some people react with a radioactive tracer, but it is rare.
- Pregnant women should avoid the process unless it’s an emergency, as it can harm the developing baby.
- Exposure to radiation increases your chance of developing cancer later. If you have any concerns, talk to your caregiver.
- A bruise might develop in the needle incision area
Physicians release results for PET scans 1 or 2 weeks after the procedure.