Diagnostic Services

Frequently Asked Questions About Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) FAQs

You will need to allow 2-3 hours for the completion of the PET/CT scan. Prior to the procedure, a small amount of a radioactive "tracer" is injected into the bloodstream. Then, you can relax in a quiet room for up to 90 minutes to allow the tracer to circulate through your body. At that point, you lay on a table that passes slowly through the PET/CT scanner, which looks much like a typical CT scanner. The scanner creates an image of your body and metabolic process within organs and organ systems and takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Fasting for four hours prior to the scan is necessary. Water is allowed, but other liquids or foods are not—not even chewing gum or cough drops. All metal will need to be removed for scanning including clothing with zippers, jewelry, and underwire bras. The scan room may seem cold, so it is recommended to dress simply and warmly with elastic-waist clothing. If you are a diabetic who is insulin dependent, you will need to check with our office staff for specific instructions. Likewise, if you are a chemotherapy or radiation therapy patient, we will need to discuss your appointment date with you.

The images from the PET/CT study will be interpreted by a physician with special training in PET/CT. The PET/CT report will be sent to your referring doctor as soon as it is available—usually within 24 hours of the exam. Your doctor will then discuss the results with you.

You have no restrictions after a PET/CT scan and can go about your normal activities. To help eliminate the FDG tracer from your body, drink plenty of fluids. Because you will have fasted for four hours, you should eat something right after the scan.

New England PET’s office staff are well versed in insurance guidelines and will work to get any required approvals.

Prior to the exam, New England PET will need your complete medical insurance coverage information. You must be sure to bring your medical insurance card(s) and all other pertinent insurance coverage information to your exam.

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