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PET/CT Exam Preparation

What will the PET/CT exam be like?

Prior to the exam, you will receive an injection of a glucose-based radiopharmaceutical, which travels through the body, eventually collecting in the organs and tissues targeted for examination. For most studies, you will have to wait 60-90 minutes for the radiopharmaceutical to distribute itself in your body. The scan will last from 15 to 60 minutes. You will lie on a comfortable table that moves slowly through a ring-like scanner. The CT portion of the exam sends X-rays through the body; the X-rays are processed by a computer to produce images of the body’s internal structures. The PET scanner has cameras that detect the gamma rays emitted from the body and turns them into electrical signals, which are then processed to generate images. As the table moves slowly through the scanner, many sets of PET and CT images are produced, and the computer assembles them into a 3-D image of your body. You should not experience any discomfort or side effects. The scanner never comes into contact with your body and is brightly lit inside. The radiation you will receive from the CT scan is about the same as a couple of X-rays; PET radiation is about the same. The radiopharmaceuticals do not remain in your system long; drinking plenty of fluids afterward will help to flush them out of your system.

The PET/CT exam results will be reviewed by our radiologist and sent to your physician, who will follow up with you.

Preparing for your PET exam

Please follow these special instructions for your PET/CT evaluation:

  • Do not eat or drink anything more than water for 6 hours before your exam because it could interfere with the results; don’t even chew gum.
  • Medication can be taken as usual, except those that need to be taken with food.
  • There are no side effects with the PET/CT exam.
  • Follow a high protein, low carb diet 12 hours in advance.
  • If you are diabetic, let us know ahead of time so we can work with your physician to determine the safest possible way for you to prepare for your exam.
  • NOTE TO DIABETICS: Your glucose should be below 200 mg/dL for the exam to be accurate. In the event you are having difficulties regulating your blood sugar, please give your physician a call for suggestions on better control.

* Please let us know if you might be pregnant or are currently breast-feeding.