PET Imaging

PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography. It is a highly advanced medical imaging tool which shows your body's metabloic activity. Instead of detecting changes in the physical size or structure of internal organs, as other traditional imaging technologies do, PET detects changes in the cellular function. Since these functional changes take place before physical changes occur, PET can provide information that enables your physician to make an earlier diagnosis or to determine if current treatment is working effectively. Even if a previous CT or MRI detected disease or abnormalities, PET can help, because PET can often characterize the cellular function early in the course of disease. These capabilities can translate into faster initiation of the best possible treatment while avoiding more invasive exams or exploratory surgery

A PET scan is most often used to detect and localize a variety of common cancers, or to determine the extent of spread of a cancer or its response to therapy. It can also be used to assess neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or certain cardiac conditions. 

What happens During a PET Scan?

  • A PET scan is a non-invasive and painless procedure. Depending on the type of scan, it can be performed in about 90 minutes. Afterward, you may resume your normal activities, such as driving.
  • To start the process of your scan, you will be given a fruit-flavored drink called a "contrast solution." The contrast solution helps the physician interpreting the image to clearly see your stomach and intestines and distinguish them from other structures in your abdomen.
  • A small amount of a radioactive sugar compound is then injected into yoour bloodstream. The radioactive sugar circulates in your body while you relax for approximately one hour. You then lie on a bed that slowly passes through the scanner.
  • It's very important that you do not move or adjust your position.
  • When the imaging procedure is complete, the scanner will send the information to a computer that both displays the PET and a CT scan side by side and fuses the images together.

What should I do to prepare?

  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Take any prescribed medications on the day of the exam unless instructed not to do so by your physician
  • Leave valuables at home
  • No metallic jewelry.
  • Review patient exam preparation instructions.
  • Arrive on time for the exam.
  • Let the technologist know if you're pregnant or you think you might be

Can I eat or drink before the exam?

This will depend on the type of study, but typically, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything four to six hours before the exam. If you are a diabetic, please notify the individual who is scheduling your PET exam. Special arrangements may need to be made in advance.

How will I feel after the exam?

You should feel fine. There are no documented side effects from the injected tracer.