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PET/CT Scan FAQ

New Jersey Imaging Services

PET/CT Scans can help physicians diagnose various illnesses, injuries, and disorders. You likely have questions about the procedure if you have never had one before. We have compiled these answers to frequently asked questions for your convenience.

Why do I need a PET/CT scan?

PET scans are used to check metabolic activity rather than internal structures. This means that it can spot symptoms of certain diseases that other imaging techniques cannot make out. It is often used to diagnose cancer, neurological conditions, and cardiovascular diseases. These scans can also help your doctor monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

CT scans will allow the radiologist to examine the internal structures in addition to the metabolic activity, which is why these exams are often performed together.

When will I get the results?

The radiologist will need time to examine the results and compare them with your medical records before discussing their findings with your doctor. This is usually done in less than 48 hours. Your doctor will contact you when he or she is ready to discuss results with you.

Can I take my medication?

Most medications are okay to take before a PET/CT scans so long as you only take small sips of water to swallow them. There are some medications that you cannot take. These include:

  • Diabetic medications
  • Cough drops
  • Cough syrup
  • Lasix
  • Any sugary liquid medications
Do I need to fast before the exam?

Yes, you should not eat or drink anything for four to six hours before your appointment. This includes gum and hard candy. Small sips of water to take medication is ok.

How long does a PET/CT Scan take?

The PET/CT scan consists of performing a CT scan first and a PET scan afterwards. From beginning to end, the whole process can last a few hours. Before the scan, there will be an interview with the radiologist as well as intravenous prep. If oral contrast is required, it will take about an hour for the contrast to move through your digestive tract. Depending on the individual, additional scanning is occasionally required, which will make the scanning process take longer.

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