Receiving a PET/CT Scan
A PET/CT (positron emission tomography and computed tomography) scan is a diagnostic nuclear medicine exam used to evaluate how the organ systems of the body are functioning. PET/CT is one of the most advanced procedures used to help identify and differentiate between both primary and metastatic cancer. It can also detect certain diseases of the heart and brain.
Preparing for a PET/CT Scan
Your doctor has scheduled you for a PET/CT scan. We will contact you one-to-two days before your appointment to give you more instructions and information about the test. Plan to be in our department for about three hours. This includes time for preparation, test and any instructions for when you return home.
- Please tell your doctor if you are claustrophobic or cannot lay flat or still.
- Pregnant or nursing women should not have a PET/CT exam.
- If you cannot keep your appointment, you must give at least 24 hours notice of your cancellation. This is very important because the medication used for your test will be specially ordered and prepared the day before your procedure is scheduled.
- If you are diabetic, we give you special instructions based on your diabetic medications. These instructions will be different depending on the time your test is scheduled. Your fasting blood sugar should be 200 mg/dl or less to take this test.
- Please do not exercise 48 hours before your scan.
- If you take Lasix® or any type of diuretic, DO NOT take it four hours prior to the test and until the test is completed.
- Please do not eat five hours before your test. You are permitted to drink water.
- For the best test results, maintain a low carb diet 24 hours prior to your PET/CT scan.
- Please wear comfortable clothing. Avoid underwire bras, girdles, metal snaps or pins.
- Please leave valuables at home.
- Please bring the following: insurance card, photo ID, referral forms, current medicine list, any requested X-ray films or CD’s and your doctor’s order for the test.
- Do not smoke, chew gum, eat mints or candy or use tobacco products the day of your test.
What Happens During a PET/CT Scan?
A certified nuclear medicine technologist will perform your test. A board certified nuclear medicine physician will interpret your PET/CT scan and results are available within one working day. The following are typical steps that occur during a PET/CT scan:
- An IV will be started.
- The nuclear medicine technologist will check your blood sugar level. (If levels are elevated, you may receive insulin as recommended by the physician and the level will be rechecked.)
- Although it is rare, a urinary catheter may be used, depending on the test.
- F-18 FDG (the radioactive material) will be injected.
- You will be asked to lay down and rest for 45 to 60 minutes while the radioactive material circulates.
- Prior to the start of the scan, the IV will be removed and you will be asked to urinate.
- You will be positioned on the imaging table that will slowly pass through the scanner.
- This “pass” takes about 40 minutes. You will have to stay still the entire time.
- The scanner picks up information from the body, which is reassembled through a computer to create an image of the body.
- After the technologist briefly reviews the images, the procedure is complete.
- Once the procedure is complete, drink fluids frequently and flush the toilet twice after each use for 24 hours.
Make an appointment
PET/CT is located at UPMC Williamsport. To schedule a PET/CT scan ordered by your doctor, call (570) 321-2400.