Getting Ready for Your Scan
What is PET-CT imaging?Positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) are 2 types of imaging used together to detect a cancer and measure its severity. PET-CT may also be used to determine how well your cancer therapy is working.
A PET scan looks at the functioning of body tissues. A tiny amount of radioactive sugar (glucose) is injected into the bloodstream. Because cancer cells in the body are growing rapidly, they absorb large amounts of the glucose, which show up as “hot” spots on your scan. A CT scan shows organs and other body structures. It is used to pinpoint the location, size and shape of the abnormal area. Together, PET and CT provide a complete picture of any suspected cancer.
Is it safe?
The risks associated with a PET-CT scan are minimal. The radioactive glucose degrades quickly so that no detectable radioactivity is present after several hours. The remainder is eliminated from the body through urine. If you are given contrast dye, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to it. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to shellfish or have had an allergic reaction to a previous contrast study.
How do I get ready?
The day before the exam:
- Follow a low carbohydrate diet plan per the “PET-CT Diet Plan”.
- Drink extra fluids, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Do not do any strenuous activity such as jogging, heavy lifting or exercising.
If you have any of the below conditions, call your doctor and bring any medications with you to the testing center.
- Fear of enclosed or tight spaces (claustrophobia)
- An allergy to contrast dye or shellfish
Six Hours Before the Exam:
- Do not eat, drink (except water) or chew gum.
- You may take your regularly scheduled medications with water.
What happens the day of the exam?
- Diabetics: Do not take your insulin the day of your exam. If needed, call your doctor for instructions for controlling your glucose due to this restriction.
- There is valet parking available at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion.
- Plan on being at the testing center for about three hours.
- Bring a list of any medications you are currently taking.
- Due to the type of medication used, pregnant women and children younger than 18 are not allowed in the uptake rooms with the patient.
- Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing with minimal metal and avoid wearing jewelry.
- If you are on tube feedings, continue feeding until six hours prior to your appointment. You may still have water.
What happens during the exam?
The scan will take 30-60 minutes. We may need to give you another type of contrast dye. We may ask you to drink the dye or we will give it to you through your IV. Satellite radio is available during the exam.
What happens after the exam?
If you still have questions or concerns—or there is anything we can do to make your visit more comfortable—please don’t hesitate to ask any of our staff for assistance.
Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion
145 Michigan Street NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503