How does a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) procedure work?
PET is a nuclear medicine procedure that produces pictures of the body’s metabolic functions. You will receive a CT scan as part of your PET study. The CT scan improves the accuracy of the PET scan by providing excellent localization to any abnormalities seen on PET. The CT may detect abnormalities not seen by PET, and vice-versa. The radiation exposure associated with PET is safe and lower than most conventional radiology examinations.
How do I make an appointment for a PET/CT exam?
- Patients need to be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance of an exam.
- For “same day” PET/CT scans, the nuclear medicine department must approve the exam first.
- Written physician’s order can be faxed to the Scheduling department at 713-nnn-nnnn or the Department of Nuclear Medicine at 713-nnn-nnnn.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
What you are asked to do before your exam will depend on the type of study ordered by your physician. However, most exams require the following:
- Avoid drinking or eating anything 4 hours prior to your exam.
- Inform your doctor of any prescribed medications you are taking. Most medications can be taken the day of the exam unless instructed differently by your physician.
- Inform your physician if you are diabetic.
- Avoid strenuous activity 12 hours in advance of your study and engage in only minimal physical activity on the day of the exam.
- Please dress warmly and in comfortable clothes, making sure to leave all valuables at home.
- Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled exam.
What will I experience during the procedure?
- Before your exam begins, you will be injected with a radioactive tracer. This tracer is a compound of complex sugars labeled with a short-lived radioisotope.
- You will be asked to rest for approximately 45 to 60 minutes while the radioactive tracer travels throughout your body. During this time you will asked to refrain from talking, walking, or chewing gum.
- The technologist will then ask you to lie on the scanner table. The table slowly passes through the scanner. The PET scanner detects and records the signals the tracer emits. The signals are reassembled into actual images through the use of a computer and will then be processed for interpretation by the reading physician.
How long will the exam take?
The exam will usually take at least two hours. The type of study being performed will determine the exact length of the exam.
Are there any after-effects of the exam?
There are no known side effects resulting from the injected tracer, so you should feel fine after your exam.
When and how will I received my test results?
Your PET scan results will not immediately be available. Your physician will be contacted when the results are ready and he or she will inform you of all pertinent information ascertained from the scan.