PET/CT Patient Preparation

Oncology Imaging Preparation

Because PET Imaging depends on visualizing the distributions of the glucose based radiopharmaceutical throughout your body, correct preparation for your PET study is more critical than for other commonly performed imaging studies.

Dress in warm, comfortable clothing, as some scanner rooms may be cool. Avoid wearing jewelry or clothes with metal fasteners and zippers.

Food and Drink
Please call the imaging facility for specific instructions. Generally, the day before your scan drink 6-8 glasses of water and limit the amount of sugar and caffeine you consume. On the day of the scan do not eat or drink anything except plain water for four to six hours before your scan. Drink several glasses of water before your scan to ensure hydration.

Take your regularly scheduled medication with water prior to arriving for your scan, unless instructed otherwise.

Diabetic Patients
Inform the imaging facility ahead of time if you are diabetic to discuss specific instructions. Test your blood sugar level before the scan, it should be approximately 100-200 mg/dL.


Physical Activity

Please refrain from strenuous physical activity for 24 hours prior to your exam, such as working out, jogging, heavy lifting, etc. 


What to Expect


Before arriving at the imaging facility you should carefully follow the patient preparation instructions. Correct preparation for your PET/CT study is very important.


Once at the imaging center, you will be asked to complete the necessary paperwork to begin the procedure. Be sure to bring your insurance cards with you to ensure accurate billing. It may also be helpful to bring a list of any medications you are currently taking.


You will receive an intravenous injection and then you will be asked to rest quietly for approximately 60 minutes. After this resting period you will empty your bladder and the technologist will escort you into the scanning room where you will lie down on the scanner table. It is important to be comfortable and lie as still as possible for 15-35 minutes as the table passes slowly through the scanner acquiring several sets of images. A PET or PET/CT scan is fast straight forward and painless.


You should plan on spending at least two to three hours at the imaging facility. There is a 60 minute resting period before imaging, and your actual scan will take approximately 15-35 minutes, depending on the type of scan you are having and the type of scanner being used.


Bone Imaging Preparation

There is no special preparation required prior to having a bone scan. You may eat normally and should drink plenty of fluids before and after the scan. If you are on any prescribed medications, you may continue to take them as usual unless instructed otherwise. You may be asked to remove jewelry or other metal objects, so dress accordingly.


If you cannot keep your scheduled appointment, please call our office at least 24 hours in advance so that we may fill that time slot with another patient.

If you have had previous diagnostic studies (bone scan, x-ray, etc.), please bring those films and reports with you to your appointment, or request your physician send them to the imaging center.


As with most tests, tell your doctor if you are breast feeding, pregnant or think you might be pregnant. Bone scans aren't usually performed on pregnant women because of concerns about radiation exposure to the fetus. 


What to Expect 


When you arrive at the imaging center check in at the front desk. One of our technologists will call you back to the imaging area to collect your medical history. 


Before your scan, you will receive an intravenous injection containing a small amount of radio-pharmaceutical 18F NaF. Then you will be asked to relax for 60 minutes in one of our patient waiting areas. This time is needed for the radiopharmaceutical to distribute naturally throughout your body. During this time you may read a book or magazine and have water to drink.  


After the waiting period and before your scan, you will be asked to empty your bladder. This is done so that the images of pelvic and hip bones will show up clearly. The technologist will then position you on the bed of the scanner. You will lie on the bed for your scan, which will take approximately 30 minutes. You will feel the bed move slowly through the PET/CT scanner opening, first taking a CT scan, followed by a PET scan. Our technologist will instruct you and keep you informed during the entire examination. Since movement of the body while the images are being taken may require the scan to be repeated, you should remain as still as possible and breathe normally, unless told otherwise.  

Once inside the body, the radiopharmaceutical doesn't remain active for long. Drinking plenty of fluids will hasten the elimination from your body. You should feel no side effects after the procedure, and no aftercare is necessary.


A trained radiologist or nuclear medicine physician will review and interpret the images. The radiologist looks for evidence of abnormal bone metabolism on the scans. These show up as darker "hot spots" and lighter "cold spots" where the radiopharmaceutical has or hasn't accumulated. The results of the scan will be reported to your referring physicians, usually within 24 to 48 hours. Please contact your physician to discuss the results.


Oncology Imaging Patient Guide



Bone Imaging Patient Guide


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