Why Do I Need a PET Scan?
You may be prescribed a PET scan if your doctor wants to look more closely for:
Before your PET scan, you will receive an IV injection of a radioactive drug called a tracer, which is absorbed by certain organs and tissues. A PET scanner uses the tracer to show both normal and abnormal metabolic activity.
Preparing for Your PET Scan
The PET Scan Machine
A PET scanner is shaped like a ring or donut. You will lie on a table that glides slowly into the machine as the scan is conducted. Your doctor may order a PET scan and CT scan at the same time. A combined PET-CT produces 3D images that can help your doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis.
PET Scan Safety and Comfort
Tell your doctor if being in an enclosed space makes you anxious. You may be able to take a mild sedative to help you relax during the procedure. The tracer used for the scan does not have side effects and will not make you feel different. Your body will eliminate it quickly after the test. Drinking extra fluids for 24 hours after the scan can help flush the tracer out of your body. The risks of getting a PET scan are minimal compared to the benefits of diagnosing serious medical conditions.
Getting Ready for Your PET Scan
Wear warm, comfortable clothes without zippers, buttons, or metal. Depending on the part of the body being scanned and the tracer used, you may have dietary or other restrictions. Duke MyChart or your provider will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your scan. In most cases, you should not eat or drink for four hours before your PET scan time. This includes gum, mints, hard candies, and cough drops. You may drink water but nothing else. Do not exercise or have any caffeine for 12 hours before your scan time. If you have diabetes and take insulin, do so at least four hours before you arrive for your PET scan.
Experts in PET Scan Technology
A team of radiologists, medical physicists, and specially trained technologists and nurses work together to ensure your PET scan is safe and high-quality. We are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR), meaning we provide the highest level of safety and image quality. Our scanners also undergo rigorous internal quality control, which exceeds even the high ACR standards. These accreditations and quality control programs demonstrate our commitment to providing you with the best experience possible.