FAQ - P.E.T.

Why do I need a P.E.T. Scan?
Your P.E.T. exam results may have a major impact on your physician's diagnosis of a potential health problem and, should a disease be detected, how your return to health is managed.

A P.E.T. study not only helps your physician diagnose a problem, it also helps your physician predict the likely outcome of various therapeutic alternatives, pinpoint the best approach to treatment, and monitor your progress. If you're not responding as well as exptected, you can be switched to a more effective therapy immediately.

Just ask your physician what he or she hopes to learn from your P.E.T. exam.

What happens once I get there?
After reviewing your history and any prior exam, you'll receive a radiopharmaceutical injection. This is a radioactive tracer that must pass multiple quality control measures before it is used for any patient injection.

For most studies, you'll have to wait for the radiopharmaceutical to distribute itself - typically 30 minutes to an hour. You may be able to read, speak, or listen to music until your scan begins, and perhaps during the scan itself. However, if we'll be scanning your brain, we will ask you to wait in a quiet, dimly lit room, without stimulating your brain by reading or talking.

If you're hear for a heart study, you may not have to wait. The radiopharmaceuticals used for cardiac exams are often administered jsut before the scanning begins.

What will the scan be like?
You'll lie on a comfortable table that moves slowly throught the ring-like P.E.T. scanner as it acquires the information it needs to generate diagnostic images. We'll ask you to lie very still, because movement can interfere with the results.

You shouldn't feel a thing during the scan, which can last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes. Then, unless the physician sees a need for acquiring additional information, you're free to leave.

How long does this all take?
Your exam procedure will vary depending on what we're looking for, and what we discover along the way. Plan to spend 2 to 3 hours with us.

What happens after the exam?
You may leave as soon as the scan is complete. Unless you've received special instructions, you'll be able to eat and drink immediately - drinking lots of fluids will help remove any of the radiopharmaceutical that may still be in your system.

In the meantime, we'll begin preparing the results for review by our nuclear radiologists, and then by your physician, who will tell you what we've learned.

Are there risks associated with P.E.T.?
A P.E.T. study is similar to many other diagnostic procedures, from CT and MRI to Nuclear Medicine. Although the radiation you receive is different, it's roughly equivalent to what you'd receive from other diagnostic imaging exams such as CT (a couple of chest X-rays).

Radiopharmaceuticals used in P.E.T. don't remain in your system long, so there's no reason to avoid interacting with other people once you've left. To be extra safe, wait a few hours before getting too close to an infant or anyone who's pregnant.

Consult your physician with any additional questions or concerns.


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