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Patient Prep: PET/CT Scan

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Day of Your Exam

  • Plan to be at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care for two hours.
  • Read and carefully follow instructions for preparing the day before and day of your test to allow for the highest-quality exam.
  • If you are diabetic, the Imaging staff will work with you to manage your glucose level before the test.
  • Fasting: You must stop eating or drinking - other than water - six hours before you arrive at the cancer center for your exam. Do not have breath mints, breath strips, candy, cough drops or gum.
    • We encourage you to drink plain unflavored water during this six-hour period; you cannot drink any other beverage.
  • Medications: Take your regularly scheduled medications and bring a list of the medications you take regularly. This includes over-the-counter drugs and herbals. If you need medication for pain or anxiety, please arrange for this with your health care provider before your exam and bring these medications with you.

What to Expect During Your Exam

  • After checking in with the receptionist in the main lobby, you will be directed to Imaging. Our support service staff will greet you and let the Imaging staff know you have arrived.
  • The technologist will escort you to the PET/CT suite. You will be weighed and brought to a private room with a comfortable recliner. You will be given a heated blanket to keep you warm.
  • Our staff will review a questionnaire with you and answer your questions.
  • The technologist will start an IV in your arm or a nurse will access your port if you have one. We will draw a small amount of blood to check your glucose level.
  • The technologist will inject radioactive sugar through the IV and it will be distributed throughout your body. While all cells use sugar for energy, certain types have a higher metabolism and absorb sugar much faster than ordinary cells. The PET/CT scan will identify these areas.
  • You must rest for one hour so the radioactive sugar has time to get into the cells. You may listen to music or read while you rest and will have a call box to contact the staff if needed.
  • When the hour is over, the staff will remove the IV and have you go to the bathroom.

The Scan

  • Following the resting phase, we will escort you to the scan room and position you on the table with your arms resting above your head. If you cannot do this, the technologist will make adjustments.
  • We will place a support wedge under your knees and you will receive a heated blanket.
  • When the exam begins, the table will move slowly into the opening. You should hear some soft clicks as the table moves through the scanner. The scan takes 20-30 minutes; you must remain still during this time.
  • When your scan is finished, you can return to your normal activities.

Exam Results

  • We strive to provide your doctor's office with your results as soon as possible after your procedure so they can notify you within five days (or sooner if urgent).
  • If you haven't heard from your doctor's office in this time frame, please call the office.