The PET/CT scan your doctor has recommended is very important since it will provide information that is important to your diagnosis. It will also help you and your physician make accurate and informed decisions about your treatment path. Life hands us difficult questions that deserve answers and a PET/CT scan can help you and your medical team answer those tough questions with more clarity.
What to Expect as a Patient
The following information will help you prepare for your appointment at the imaging facility.
PET / CT scanner rooms can sometimes be kept at cooler temperatures, so please see that you wear warm comfortable clothing. Also, please avoid wearing jewelry or clothes with metal fasteners or zippers as you will be asked to remove those before the scan takes place.
You will be given specific preparation instructions regarding food and drink before your scan, but please refrain from eating or drinking any liquids, except water, for at least four to six hours before your scan. Please relax the 24 hours prior to your scan and remember to refrain from strenuous physical activity like working out, jogging, heavy lifting. Bring your most recent copies of any CT, X-ray, or MRI films with you on the day of your PET/CT scan.
Be prepared to stay at the imaging facility for approximately 2 to 3 hours. You will be asked to lie within one of our preparation rooms quietly for approximately 60 minutes before the scan, and to lie still for approximately 30 minutes while the scan is being performed.
Before arriving at the imaging facility you should carefully follow our detailed patient preparation instructions. Correct preparation for your PET study is more critical than for other commonly performed imaging studies due to the fact that PET imaging depends on visualizing the distribution of the glucose based radio-pharmaceutical throughout your body.
Upon arriving at our center you will be asked to complete the necessary paperwork to begin the procedure. Be sure to bring your insurance cards with you to ensure accurate billing. Please remember to bring a list of any and all medications that you are currently taking.
You will receive an intravenous injection of a radioactive glucose, and then you will be asked to rest quietly for approximately 60 minutes, allowing the glucose to circulate throughout the body. A nurse may check your blood sugar level before injecting the radioactive glucose, particularly if you are diabetic.
After this resting period you will empty your bladder and the technologist will escort you into the scanning room where you will lie down on the scanner table. It is important to remember to be comfortable and lie as still as possible for 15 to 35 minutes while the table passes slowly through the scanner acquiring several images. The procedure has no side effects and is painless.
How Much Time Should I Allocate for my Visit?
You should plan on spending at least two to three hours at the imaging facility. Depending on the type of scan you are having and the type of scanner being used, there is a 60 minute resting period before imaging, and your actual scan will take approximately 15 to 35 minutes. The results are read and interpreted by a trained nuclear medicine physician or radiologist and your physician will receive a written report approximately 24 to 48 hours after completion of the study.
Make sure you inform the imaging facility staff ahead of time if you are diabetic, and follow their specific instructions or the instructions given to you by your physician. A nurse may check your blood sugar level before injecting the radioactive glucose. Your blood sugar level should be between 100-200 mg/dL before your PET/CT scan.
All molecular and nuclear imaging procedures are very safe. PET imaging is a nuclear imaging procedure. They are noninvasive which eliminates many various risks. Radiation exposure is minimal in nuclear imaging procedures due to the fact that the amount of radio-pharmaceutical used is extremely small. The amount of radiation in most nuclear medicine procedures is comparable to that received during a CT scan.
Radio pharmaceuticals are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and prepared with extreme care. Nuclear imaging has been used for more than 50 years, and these procedures are generally free of known side effects. While exposure to radiation is a small risk, the benefits of early and accurate diagnosis outweigh the risk of exposure to this small quantity of radioactive material. Naturally occurring background radiation and modern activities such as watching television and flying in an airplane all contribute to a lifetime exposure that is only slightly increased by medical imaging.
Post PET/CT Scan
Once the PET/CT scan is complete, you will be able to leave the imaging facility and travel to your next destination. Make sure you drink plenty of water or other fluids throughout the remainder of the day.
Your PET/CT Scan Results
We will report your PET/CT scan results to your referring physician. Please contact your physician to discuss these results.