Frequently Asked Questions or What Can You Expect?
Most types of PET scans require patients to fast for 6 hours prior to the appointment time. Patients who take diabetic medications (oral hypoglycemic medications and/or insulin) may need special instructions depending on scan type and fasting requirements. For most scans, patients are allowed to drink as much PLAIN water (no additives or flavoring) as they please all the way up to the appointment time. Specific instructions vary depending on scan type and radiotracer type. Patients must follow the instructions provided, specific to their scan type.
When entering the department for your PET scan, you will be asked questions regarding medical history and specific preparations that is pertinent to your study. Your height and weight will also be obtained as pertinent information for the PET camera.
You will then be asked to change into a gown or pant bottoms that are compatible with our scanner. All removable metal from head to toe will need to be removed, as this is a whole body scanner. Internal metal (such as hardware from surgery, pacemaker, etc.) is acceptable and will not pose any safety issues to you or others.
Most PET studies require that we check your blood glucose levels by a finger stick. If you meet all the criteria necessary for your study, the radiotracer will be administered to you intravenously. These radiotracers have no side effects and are not considered a contrast agent. Once the radiotracer is administered, you will be required to rest quietly for 90 minutes prior to imaging. This period before imaging is necessary, as the body needs time to absorb the radiotracer before quality images can be obtained. During this 90-minute uptake, you will be asked to relax to the best of your ability, or nap if possible. For most scans, you will be asked not to read, write, listen to music, be on electronics, etc. Any activity during the uptake phase will have an affect on your image quality.
At the end of the 90-minute uptake, you will have an opportunity to use the restroom. We ask that you at least try to empty your bladder, as excess urine may interfere with scan quality in the pelvic area.
During the scan, you will be made as comfortable as possible then instructed to hold still and breath normal the whole time. As this is a whole-body scanner, your entire body length will enter the scanner for the duration of the imaging. Scan time varies depending on the type of study ordered. Patients requiring medication for claustrophobia, anxiety, or pain control may wish to bring their own prescription medication. We advise these patients to be accompanied by someone who can drive them home.
At the end of your appointment, you may return to routine activities with no further restrictions.
The process and expectations should remain nearly the same between the EXPLORER Total Body PET/CT scanner and the multi-slice PET/CT scanners with minor differences. The uptake phase for the multi-slice typically takes 60 minutes, depending on the scan type. These scanners also have a much smaller scan field of view, requiring multiple moves throughout the scanner in able to acquire the same amount of information that the Explorer can acquire in one image. As these are not whole-body scanners, you can expect that your head will be outside of the camera for most of the scan (except for brain imaging). Some patients may still wish to bring their own medication for claustrophobia, anxiety, or pain. These patients should also be accompanied by someone to drive them home.
The length of your exam will depend on what is ordered by your doctor, or the body part of interest.
Most cardiac PET exams are typically completed in about 60 minutes after radiotracer administration and non-cardiac exams are typically completed in about 1.5-2 hrs.
For more detailed information regarding the overall length of your exam, please call the scheduling department at (916) 734-0655 or the Nuclear Medicine / PET technologist desk at (916) 703-2136
Many exams can be scheduled to be performed within 1-2 days after the exam is ordered and insurance authorization has been completed. Certain specialty exams have constraints on radiotracer and/or equipment availability that must be accounted for and may take longer to schedule. Urgent exam requests are prioritized whenever possible.
Allergy to radioactivity does not exist. In very rare cases there can be an allergic reaction to the chemical to which the radioactive isotope is attached to. If you should have an allergic reaction the Nuclear Medicine / PET Physician will treat you. Be sure to notify the staff of any allergies or allergic reactions you have had in the past.
With most of the tracers used, the radioactivity will be almost completely gone by the following day.
Generally there is no risk in exposing others to meaningful amounts of radioactivity from diagnostic Nuclear Medicine / PET imaging exams.
The amount of time needed to complete a Nuclear Medicine / PET exams depends on the type of test. Nuclear Medicine / PET exams are generally performed in three steps, administering the radiotracer, acquiring the images and analyzing the results. The amount of time needed for the radiotracer to localize in the body part to be scanned can vary from several minutes to a few hours to even days.
Cardiac stress testing (either with a treadmill or by using a medication) has been proven to be effective and safe in hundreds of thousands of patients. The risks associated with cardiac stress testing are minimal. While no test is perfectly safe, the risk of major complications (such as heart attack, stroke or death) are rare and on the order of 1/5000 to 1/10000. During and after the test you will be continuously monitored by medical staff to ensure your safety.
No. Radiotracers are not the same as contrast agents used in CT or MRI scanning and are used for different purposes.
Images are usually read the same day and the results should be available to your physician within 24 hours or less.
Depending on what test you have, you might be asked to wear a gown.
Please leave all jewelry at home. Jewelry can potentially cause artifacts on the images.
A pacemaker or other implanted medical devices do not pose a problem for Nuclear Medicine / PET imaging exams. However please let the staff know if you have any implanted medical devices or prosthesis.