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Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging.
PET is a test that uses special imaging cameras and a radioactive type of sugar to produce pictures of the function and metabolism of the cells in the body. A PET scan is unique type of imaging test that helps doctors see how the organs and tissues inside your body are functioning.
Questions about PET/CT Scans
PET scan imaging, or PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is a test that uses special imaging cameras and a radioactive type of sugar to produce pictures of the function and metabolism of the cells in the body. A PET scan is unique type of imaging test that helps doctors see how the organs and tissues inside your body are functioning.
You must bring your insurance card and the written requisition form from your physician and arrive a minimum of 30 minutes prior to the examination. If applicable, bring a CD copy of any previous PET exams, X-rays, CT or MRI scans done at a different imaging facility for comparison. Wear warm, comfortable clothes – the scanner room is often cool – and avoid clothes with heavy buckles or metal components.
- For six hours before your test, do not eat or drink (except water). Do not chew gum.
- Please take all your prescribed medications as normal (except cough drops, cough syrups, liquid Mylanta, Tums, Boost, etc.)
- Avoid caffeine, sugar, tobacco and heavy exercise for 48 hours before your scan
- If you have diabetes, discuss with your physician and call the imaging center staff before your scan
- If you are or think you may be pregnant, discuss this with your doctor. Generally, PET imaging is not performed on pregnant women.
Download the About Your PET/CT Scan instructions page (PDF) for detailed instructions about what to expect and how to prepare for your scan.
Once injected into a vein, it typically takes from 45 minutes to 1 hour for the radiotracer to travel throughout the body and be absorbed into the organs or tissues to be examined. The scan itself may take another 30 to 60 minutes. Total appointment time is approximately 2 hours.