PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is a powerful diagnostic tool that, in many cases, renders answers that no other imaging test can provide. Used in conjunction with CT (Computed Tomography) imaging or on its own, PET is a non-invasive procedure that helps physicians in their diagnosis and treatment of certain diseases.
PET/CT represents the next level of diagnostic imaging power for oncology. PET detects metabolic signals in the body while CT provides a detailed picture of the internal anatomy, revealing the location, size, and shape of cellular activity.
Alone, each imaging test is effective for a wide variety of applications. But when the results of PET and CT scans are “fused” together, the combined image provides complete information on cancer location and metabolism.
Preparing for your PET/CT
Allergies: Notify your physician of any allergies before the exam. If you have any allergy to contrast material, or “dye,” your physician may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
Pregnancy: Be sure to inform your physician if you are pregnant.
Medications: We will ask what medication you take when you schedule your appointment. You will be provided further instructions at that time. If you feel you will need sedation or area diabetic, contact us for further instructions prior to your scheduled appointment.
Eating: A special diet is required the day before the exam. If your PET/CT scan is before 12:30 pm, the last meal should be no later than 9:00 pm the night before the exam. If your PET/CT scan is after 12:30 pm, the last meal should be no later than 6:00 am the day of the scan.
During your last meal before the exam, do not eat any carbohydrates or starches (rice, potatoes, breads, pastas, fruits, vegetables, etc.). Please eat protein (beef, chicken, eggs, pork, fish) only. A low blood sugar level is essential for a successful scan. Also, please refrain from exercising or hard labor 24 hours prior to your scan. You can drink water anytime before the exam.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A PET/CT SCAN?
Most common applications of PET are in the fields of oncology and neurology.
ONCOLOGY (cancer) is the most important application of PET/CT and provides vital diagnostic information that can alter the course of cancer treatment and sometimes help in avoiding unwarranted surgery. PET and/or PET/CT provides critical information about whether a tumor is malignant or not; the extent of cancer; whether it has spread to other organs or not; monitoring of cancer recurrences; and monitoring the effectiveness of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
For NEUROLOGY (brain), PET provides accurate information to localize the areas of the brain causing epileptic seizures and to determine if surgery is an option. PET can also be used as an imaging method for such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT WHEN I ARRIVE?
When you arrive at the facility, you will be asked to fill out some paperwork prior to the scan. Then our technologist will escort you to an area where you will receive an IV line that infuses a radiopharmaceutical.
After the injection, you will be escorted to one of our quiet private rooms complete with a comfortable recliner to relax for one hour. Once you’re completely relaxed, our technologist will take you to the scanner where you’ll be on the table for about 30 – 45 minutes. The scan itself causes no pain and our staff will be by your side to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. The entire process of getting a PET/CT exam usually takes 1½ to 2 hours.
HOW LONG WILL MY PET/CT SCAN TAKE?
The entire process of getting a PET/CT exam usually takes 1½ to 2 hours.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY PET/CT SCAN?
It is important that you drink water and empty your bladder often for the rest of the day. This will result in a more rapid clearance of radioactivity from your body. You can drive and resume normal activities immediately after leaving the department, unless you have received sedation.
WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?
Hawaii Advanced Imaging offers a 24-hour turnaround time on all interpretations. The final results will be given to your referring physician as soon as the images are interpreted and analyzed by one of our subspecialty-trained radiologists. Your doctor will share the results with you.
WILL MY INSURANCE COVER THE EXAM?
Many insurance companies are reimbursing for some PET procedures, including Medicare. Please contact your insurer directly to learn about payment reimbursement.