Your PET/CT exam results may have a major impact on your physician’s diagnosis of a potential health problem. If the exam detects a disease, the results can also help manage your treatment and return to health.

A PET/CT study helps your physician predict the likely outcome of various therapeutic alternatives, pinpoint the best approach to treatment, and monitor your progress. Just ask your physician what he or she hopes to learn from your PET/CT exam.

  • Do not eat anything or chew gum for eight hours before your test. Please drink only plain water so you are hydrated. Do not add any artificial flavoring to the water.
  • If you take medications, you may take them as you normally do, with water.
  • If you have been advised not to take your medications on an empty stomach, please contact us for further instruction.
  • If you are diabetic, let us know ahead of time so we can work with your physician to determine the safest possible way for you to prepare for your exam.
  • Please dress comfortably. We recommend not wearing any jewelry the day of the exam.
  • If you feel feverish, please let us know.

After receiving your history and copies of any prior exam results, the technologist will thoroughly review questions pertaining to your PET/CT exam. Upon completion of the interview process, you will receive a radiopharmaceutical injection that will be taken up by the cells in your body. We will ask you to remain seated and relaxed during the uptake period of 45 to 60 minutes. Then, the imaging sequence will resume. We will ask you to lie down on the imaging table and hold very still, because movement can interfere with the results. The scan can last anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes, and possibly more if the physician requests a need for additional information.

If you are here for a cardiac study, please be aware that the same process will take place; however, the imaging time will be anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.

Plan to spend approximately two hours at your exam, which includes completing all necessary paperwork.

Unless you receive special instructions, you will be able to eat and drink immediately. Drinking lots of fluids will help flush the radiopharmaceutical out of your system over the next 24 hours. Proceed to take any medications as prescribed by your physician if need be. In the meantime, we will begin preparing the results for review by our diagnosticians, and then by your physician, who will tell you what we have learned.

After your scan:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • As a precaution, avoid close contact with infants or with someone who is pregnant for at least eight hours after the scan.
  • Please avoid airports, federal buildings, and areas of a hospital that may have a radiation detection system for 20 hours after the scan.
  • Please inform the technologist if you have another nuclear medicine exam scheduled or have travel plans within 24 hours after your PET scan, as he or she can give you a PET study card identifying the procedure you had.

A PET/CT study is similar to many other diagnostic procedures, from CT to MRI and nuclear medicine. Although the radiation you receive is different, it is roughly equivalent to what you would receive from other diagnostic imaging exams, such as a nuclear medicine exam and CT.

Radiopharmaceuticals used in PET/CT do not remain in your system long. As a precaution, we recommend that you avoid close contact with infants or with someone who is pregnant for at least eight hours after the scan.