Your PET/CT exam results may have a major impact on your physician's diagnosis of a potential health problem and, should a disease be detected, how a treatment plan is developed and managed.
A PET/CT exam not only helps your physician diagnose a problem, it also helps predict the likely outcome of various therapeutic alternatives, pinpoint the best approach to treatment, and monitor your progress. If you're not responding as well as expected, you can be switched to a more effective therapy immediately.
When you arrive, we will take a review of your history and any past exams.
For the PET portion of the exam, you'll receive a radio-pharmaceutical injection. This is a radioactive tracer that must pass multiple quality control measures before it is used for any patient injection. PET radiopharmaceuticals lose their radioactivity very quickly (2 minutes to 2 hours) and only very small amounts are injected. In all cases, little or no radioactivity will remain in your body 2 to 6 hours after injection.
For most studies, you'll have to wait for the radiopharmaceutical to distribute itself-typically 30 minutes to an hour. During this time you will be asked to relax.
You will lie on a comfortable table on the PET/CT scanner. The table will move slowly through the tubeshaped scanner as it acquires the information needed to generate diagnostic images.
You will be asked to lie very still during the scan because movement can interfere with the results. For the CT scan you will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to minimize body movements. During the scan, you might hear a humming noise, but you will not feel anything unusual. You may feel the table move while images are being taken at certain locations on your body. The technologist will monitor you during the exam.
The specific details of your upcoming exam will be explained fully by the technologist or your physician.
The PET/CT scan should last between 30 and 45 minutes. The exam procedure can vary depending on what we are looking for and what we discover along the way. Plan to spend two to three hours with us.
You may leave us as soon as the exam is complete. Unless you've received special instructions, you will be able to eat and drink immediately - drinking lots of fluids soon after the exam will help remove any of the radio-pharmaceutical that may still be in your system.
In the meantime, we'll begin preparing the results for review by our radiologists, and then by your physician, who will tell you what we've learned.
Be assured that PET/CT exams are a safe and effective diagnostic procedure. The radiopharmaceuticals used in PET don't remain in your system long, so there's no reason to avoid interacting with other people once you've left. To be extra safe, wait for a few hours before getting too close to an infant or anyone who's pregnant.