What is a positron emission tomography (PET) scan?

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan gives your physician important information about the flow of blood through the coronary arteries to your heart. An IV will be started in a vein in your arm after determining that your blood glucose level is less than 200. The radioactive tracer will be injected into the IV, along with saline. You will need to remain relaxed and still during the uptake time between the injection and scan, usually between 60 and 80 minutes.

You will lie flat on your back on the PET scanner table during the test. The table will move you into different positions in respect to the scanner. In turn, the PET scanner detects the radiation given off by the tracer and takes pictures of how it is distributing through your body. The scans usually require about 15 to 20 minutes, and will be reviewed before you leave to ensure that all necessary pictures have been taken.

A PET F-18 FDG scan is a specialized test that uses a form of glucose to determine if any heart tissue has permanent damage due to decreased blood flow. This type of PET scan might be used after a heart attack to determine the appropriate course of treatment.

What to expect during a positron emission tomography (PET) scan

Preparing for your procedure

You should plan on your PET scan taking a total of two to three hours. If needed, please bring any pain, anxiety or claustrophobia medications that you will need for the PET scan.

Do not eat or drink anything for at least six hours prior to your PET scan. Check with your physician to determine if any of your medications should be avoided for the days leading up to your scheduled test. If you are diabetic, special preparations are required. Please alert us at the time of scheduling if you are diabetic.

Avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours before your PET scan, and make sure to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time. Check with your physician for special instructions.

During your procedure

You will be asked to empty your bladder right before you are given the IV with the radioactive tracer. During the test, it is important that you remain relaxed and completely still, allowing the technologist to take the clearest pictures possible.

After your procedure

Once you are free to go, you can resume normal daily activities unless otherwise instructed by your physician. A report of the test will be sent to your physician, who will contact you to discuss your results.

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