Doctor holding up xray

What is a PET Scan?

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positron emission tomography scan (also called a PET scan) is a diagnostic procedure that involves acquiring body images with a hybrid PET/CT Scanner combined with a radioactive tracer (FDG PET). The images are then used to evaluate a variety of diseases such as cancer, we well as brain issues such as Alzheimer's, seizures, and stroke.

Why should I have a PET Scan?

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This procedure can help your doctor to:

  1. Identify areas of hyper metabolic activity that may be malignant.
  2. Determine the stage of your cancer (early or advanced).
  3. Monitor your cancer therapy.
  4. Check for recurrence of cancer.
  5. Diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
  6. Identify the cause of seizures.
  7. Determine the extent of damage from a stroke.

Orders, Scheduling, and Insurance - What do I do before the exam?

  • An order is required for all PET/CT exams
  • You can call us directly to schedule your exam, or your Providers office may call and schedule the exam for you
  • Call your insurance prior to your exam to determine any coverage restrictions or limitations
  • Call your insurance prior to your exam to determine any prior authorization or notification requirements
  • You can find more information on billing here: BILLING

Exam Preparation - What do I do before and after the exam?

There are several steps to prepare for the exam:

  • Read over our “Preparing for Your Imaging Exam” page
  • Please be on time for your exam since the timing of the FDG tracer is critical.
  • Wear warm and comfortable clothes with no metal, for example: no zippers, buttons, or grommets.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry or other metal accessories as they will need to be removed prior to your exam.
  • The evening prior to PET/CT refrain from eating any excess sugars or carbohydrates (potatoes breads, pastas, fruits, desserts), and avoid caffeine. We suggest lean meat and vegetables.
  • Do not eat or drink anything except water 6 hours before your exam. This includes chewing gum, cough drops, breath mints, and hard candy.
  • Blood sugar must be below 200 in order to have PET/CT.
  • Drink lots of water the day before and day of your exam.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise 72 hours prior to the exam.
  • Inform your doctor or the technologist if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are diabetic, discuss your diet and medications with your doctor.
  • If you need medication for claustrophobia please ask your ordering provider to prescribe you medication, do not take this medication before you arrive for your exam.
  • Your doctor will instruct you regarding your regular medications.

There are no restrictions after your PET/CT appointment, except:

  • Avoid close contract with children and pregnant women for 24 hours.
  • Please inform your technologist if you have plans to fly within 24 hours.

How long will the exam take?

The procedure will take 2-3 hours to complete. You will be given a dose of the radioactive tracer (FDG) prior to your scan and then you will rest quietly 60-80 minutes before your scan to allow the FDG to circulate properly. The scan will then take approximately 30 to 90 minutes.

What will the exam be like?

First, you will be injected with the radioactive tracer (FDG-F18), a glucose analog that is taken by high-glucose-using cells such as brain, brown adipocytes, kidney, and cancer cells. PET/CT imaging does not use iodinated contrast. Your existing port or PICC line cannot be used as we will need direct IV access. You will then be placed in a special room to rest quietly for approximately 80 minutes while the tracer travels throughout your body.

Next, you will be taken into the PET/CT scanning room and placed on the exam table on your back. You will move through the bore of the PET/CT machine. In order to get the best images, you will need to lie very still during this exam.

Once the study is complete, you may be asked to remain for a few minutes to see if any additional images are required. If not, you are free to go. Usually there are no restrictions on your daily routine after the test. You will be reminded to drink plenty of fluids to flush the radioactive tracer from your body.

What happens with my test results?

One of our specially trained Radiologists will study the images of your test and send a final written report to your ordering provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) within 24-48 hours, unless prior imaging is needed for your exam, in which case it may take longer.

Your ordering provider can then discuss the results with you in detail. If you want to discuss your results you will need to contact your ordering provider. Every Provider’s office has different procedures and turnaround time for discussing results of exams. Our staff is not able to discuss the specifics of the results with you or give you a diagnosis.

What if I have further questions?

If you have any further questions or concerns about this procedure, please contact our office at 309-743-0445 or call your doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.

PET/CT Brochure