Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging procedure which uses small amounts of radioactive tracers to help diagnose, locate, and assess a disease. It can be used to study specific areas or the whole body. CT imaging is a highly advanced form of X-ray beam which shows the anatomical detail inside the body and detects alterations of structure caused by disease.
The functional PET images are overlaid with high definition anatomical CT images, after which the scan is called a PET-CT scan.
Several types of imaging tools / radiotracers are offered at Mercy PET-CT:
You need a referral from your specialist to be able to book an appointment for this scan.
You will be advised when you make your appointment on any necessary preparations for your scan.
All patients are required to present 15 minutes prior to their appointment time in order to complete all relevant paperwork.
The scan itself takes approximately 20-40 minutes, but you will need to allow 2-3 hours for the entire PET-CT appointment.
When you arrive, you will be given a questionnaire to complete. The Nuclear Medicine Technologist will explain the entire process, answer any questions or concerns you may have and make sure you are comfortable.
You will be asked to change into a gown and to remove metallic objects such as jewelery and hearing aids.
An IV line will be placed in your arm and the tracer is injected through the line. After the injection, depending on the type of tracer, you may have to wait up to one hour before you are ready for your images.
The PET scanner detects the radiation released from the radioactive injection and uses this to create pictures of your body. The CT scan will image the anatomy and alterations in structure related to disease.
The amount of radioactivity administered for the PET scan is small and will be flushed out of your system by the end of the day. However, because it takes a few hours to leave your system, we suggest you minimise contact with others (especially children and pregnant women) for 4 hours following your scan.
You can resume your normal activities and diet after the examination. Drink plenty of fluids for the rest of the day, as this will help clear any remaining tracer from your body.
The results of your scan will be sent to your doctor, electronically, as soon as possible. If you require urgent results, please let the receptionist and the technologist know. You can also request a copy of your results.
The PET-CT scan is a safe and routine procedure. Millions of PET scans have been performed around the world without complications.
The radioactive tracer you will receive is safe and has no known side effects. The amount of radioactivity administered for the PET scan is small and will be flushed out of your system by the end of the day. However, because it takes a few hours to leave your system, we suggest you minimise contact with others (especially children and pregnant women) for 4 hours following your scan.
CT is also a safe and routine procedure. It may be necessary to have an injection of contrast for the CT component of the scan. You will be asked questions regarding any previous iodine contrast reactions prior to any scan being performed.
It is not advisable. Although the radiation dose from the person undergoing scan is fairly low, it is desirable to keep the radiation exposure to the fetus as low as reasonably feasible. If the patient is breastfeeding, milk should be collected and discarded for 2 hours after the scan. Normal breast feeding can resume after that.
Yes, you should have no trouble driving yourself home. You may resume eating and drinking, unless otherwise instructed differently. Drinking plenty of fluids will help you excrete the radiotracers from your system.
Often, a PET scan is combined with a CT scan in one test. A PET-CT scan helps to diagnose cancer and provide additional information, including whether a tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), whether the cancer cells are active or dead, and how well the cancer is responding to treatment.
ACC: Not Available for all except NaF PET/CT with a Specialist referral Only
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