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Important Preparation for PET scan or PET-CT scan

  • If you are a female between ages of 12 to 55:
    • Questioning and / or testing for pregnancy is mandatory.
    • If the onset of the last menstrual period preceeds the PET scan appointment by:
      • Less than 10 days - no further testing is required.
      • Between 10 days and 24 days - Pregnancy blood test is required within one day of the PET scan. Arrange to have this test done before coming to the PET center and have the results with you the day of the exam. Call your primary physician or the PET center to arrange for the blood pregnancy test.
      • More than 24 days - Pregancy urine test may be substituted for a blood test. Arrange to have this test done before coming to the PET center and have the results with you the day of the exam. Call your primary physician or the PET center.
      • Not having a current pregnancy test will result in your PET scan being cancelled.
  • If you had previous CT, MRI, or PET scans, bring the films and reports with you to the PET center. This will enable the radiologist to compare any new findings to your previous scans and to assess for disease progression or remission.
  • Minimize sugar and carbohydrate consumption for at least 12 hours prior to the scan.
  • Avoid heavy exercise for at least 24 hours prior to the scan.
  • Do not eat any food or candy for at least 6 hours prior to your appointment.
    • You may drink water prior to the scan. However, juices, sodas, and other drinks are prohibited.
    • You may eat breakfast if your appointment is in the afternoon and you stop eating at least 6 hours prior to the appointment. Do not eat carbohydrates, such as sugar, juices, or starches.
  • Take all of your prescribed medications.
    • If you are diabetic and take insulin, inform the PET center. You will most likely need to follow your usual insulin schedule and arrange to have the PET scan at least 4 hours after the insulin dose.
  • If you are claustophobic, a mild sedative may be given to you. Be sure to have another person to accompany you and drive you home.
  • It is very important to arrive on time, since the scan center must prepare a radioisotope dose for you beforehand.
    • This dose quickly loses its radioactivity, rendering it unusable if you arrive late.
    • This dose is rather expensive, and you may be billed for a lost dose due to your failure to show for an appointment or arriving late. In such circumstances, many health insurance carriers will not cover this cost.
    • If you must cancel the appointment, notify the PET center as soon as possible.
  • Be sure to take off any jewelry and clothing items containing metal buttons or buckles.

Important Information about the PET or PET-CT scan

  1. Your blood sugar level will be measured by a fingerstick.
  2. You will be injected with a very dilute solution containing small amount of radioactive sugar.
  3. It is necesserry to wait for at least one hour after the injection to allow the solution to circulate and concentrate in the cells of your body.
  4. Minimize movement and talking after the injection, to reduce the uptake of the solution by muscle cells.
  5. Urinate shortly before the scan. This will decrease the bladder size and allow better visualization of the adjacent structures. Make sure not to contaminate your clothing or skin with urine, as the urine will contain the radioactive solution and skin contamination may be interpreted as skin disease.
  6. The scan will last approximately 30min. It is very important not to move during this time.
  7. Following the scan, some of the injected radioactivity will remain in your body, and will gradually disappear over the following 24 hours.
    • Minimize close contact with other people, especially small children or women who may be pregnant for at least 12 hours following the injection. This can be accomplished by keeping away at a distance of at least an arm's length or being in a separate room. Women are advised not to breast-feed for at least 24 hours.
    • Unless you have a medical condition requiring fluid restriction, drink plenty of fluids for 6 hours after the injection. This will help you to eliminate the radioactive material faster in urine.