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PET-CT Scans

Preparing for Your PET-CT Scan





What should I expect BEFORE my PET-CT scan?


If you need to take your medication in the morning prior to the scan, take it with water. Most claustrophobic patients are able to tolerate a PET or PET-CT scan. Talk to your doctor if you think you need some additional anti-anxiety medication for the scan. We cannot prescribe or supply medication.

Food and Drink


Do not eat or drink anything for at least 4 hours before the exam, except plain water. If your doctor has told you to take your regular medicine, take it with plenty of water.


If you are diabetic, do not drink or eat anything for at least 4 hours prior to your scan. Take your diabetic medication as usual. If your doctor has told you to take your regular medicine, take it with plenty of water. Avoid candies, gum or beverages other than water.

When to Arrive

All patients are required to check in and register 30 minutes prior to scheduled exam time.

What to Wear

Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes with no metal (zippers, under wire bras, etc) for the test. Leave your watch, jewelry and other valuables at home.

Intravenous Preparation

Many patients receive a contrast agent intravenously (IV) during their PET-CT test. If your doctor or the radiologist has determined that this procedure will enhance your PET-CT scan results, the technologist will place an IV in your arm or hand prior to going into the test. (Please see the section on Contrast Medium.)

If you've ever had an allergic reaction to contrast, tell your doctor and the technologist. The doctor may prescribe special medicine for you to take before the exam and also while you are here for the exam. You should bring the last 2 doses of medicine with you.

Other Information

  • Do not exercise for at least 24 hours before the exam.
  • Please leave pregnant family members and small children home.
  • Pediatric patients are not scheduled for PET-CT.

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What will I experience DURING my PET-CT Scan?


You will be required to lie flat with your arms raised above your head. If you think you will be unable to keep your arms above your head for approximately 35 minutes, please notify the technologist, and they may accommodate you.

Length of Scan

You should plan to be here for approximately 2-2.5 hours. The actual scanning and preparation time varies with the type of scan you are having.

You should plan to be here for approximately 2-2.5 hours. The actual scanning and preparation time varies with the type of scan you are having.

Contrast Medium

Contrast mediums, or contrast agents, highlight your organs and blood vessels and help the radiologist see them better. In the past, most contrast agents contained higher levels of iodine. The new contrast agents available today have lower iodine content, which greatly reduces the chance of an allergic reaction and most of the discomforts associated with the injection.

The advantage of our state-of-the-art scanners is that they maximize the efficiency of the contrast medium, which tends to dilute fairly quickly into your bloodstream. Since our scanners are so quick, it is possible to take all pictures while the contrast medium is still in a high concentration, which produces better images.

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What should I expect AFTER my PET-CT Scan?

You can drive and resume normal activities immediately after leaving the department, unless you have taken medication to relax you.

It is important that you drink as much water or fluids as possible for the rest of the day and empty your bladder as often as possible. This will result in a more rapid clearance of radioactivity and contrast from your body.

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PET-CT Scan Results

All PET-CT exams are jointly read by 2 teams of WFBMC radiologists trained in CT sub-specialty imaging and nuclear medicine.

Rapid results are essential not only for your peace-of-mind, but also for your physician to begin planning your treatment immediately, if necessary. After the scan has been read, the results are sent to your physician, who will discuss them with you.

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Last Updated: 09-16-2016
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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