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Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT)
Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) is used to more accurately diagnose and identify cancer, heart disease and brain disorders.
Blood circulates through every organ, transporting oxygen and nutrients to the organs and removing waste products away from the organs. When a disease is present, there is usually a change in the blood supply and function of the affected organ. A PET scan shows the changes in important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism while a CT scan shows the location, size and shape of internal organs. The combined PET/CT image provides complete information on function and location of abnormal organs and tissues.
Do not eat or drink anything other than water for 6 hours prior to this test (including no chewing gum, no mints and/or candies). You are encouraged to drink water during this time and before arriving for the test. If you are diabetic, you will be given special instructions.
Do not exercise 24 hours prior to this test. No long walks or carrying heavy items.
You should wear loose comfortable clothing. You should avoid wearing jewelry. You will be asked to remove your glasses, hearing aids, hairpins or dental work prior to your exam.
Please bring the following information with you: a list of all present medications, any surgery you have had in the last year, any diagnostic and treatment procedures you have had in the last 6 months.
Prior to the test, you will be asked to sign a consent form and fill out a questionnaire. Please read both documents carefully and answer the questions to the best of your knowledge. If you have any questions about the test, ask the technologist. He or she can explain the entire procedure before it begins.
Your blood sugar level will be measured using a glucometer which involves pricking your finger. You may be asked to drink a solution of concentrated sugar, if needed, to improve the quality of the images. Your blood sugar will be re-measured one hour after the drink and a few times throughout the remainder of the test.
An intravenous will be inserted into your arm which is used to inject the radioisotope (Flurodeoxyglucose, also known as FDG) into your blood stream. The FDG radioisotope is carried by the blood stream and will be distributed throughout your body. The intravenous will be removed after the injection. You will be asked to empty your bladder prior to imaging.
The technologist will take pictures approximately 60 to 90 minutes after the injection. You will have to lie down on a special table in the PET machine which is like a donut that is open at both ends. The technologist will leave the room to start the imaging process. The technologist will have you in full view at all times during the test and will be in constant communication with you via two-way microphone. It takes approximately 20 – 30 minutes to take the pictures and it is important to lie as still as possible during this time to avoid blurring the images.
A written report will be sent to your physician upon completion of analysis of the test. Your physician will then explain the test results to you.
The test lasts approximately 3 hours.
The injection of FDG result in a small amount of radiation exposure to your body that is comparable to naturally occurring sources (food, air, water, ground and materials).
The radiation you receive is not felt, seen, smelled or tasted, nor does it make you or your clothing radioactive.
The FDG is almost completely eliminated from the body within 24 hours. However, negligible amounts may be detected for up to 6 weeks by the sensitive radiation detectors in cross border and airport securities.
The tests are considered to be among the safest diagnostic tests available.
Yes, unless told otherwise by your physician. If you are diabetic, please follow the instructions given to you by your physician.
You will be able to drive after the test. Please inform the technologist if you will be traveling by airplane, train or crossing the border within six weeks after your test for a letter confirming the test was performed.
An adverse reaction is extremely rare.
Sedation may be prescribed by the referring physician to help overcome the claustrophobia. You must bring the medication with you to take half an hour before imaging. Begins. You must bring someone who can drive you home.
If you are pregnant or there is a possibility of pregnancy, or if you are breastfeeding, this test may be inappropriate for you at this time.