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PET/CT Scans

Creating detailed images to diagnose cancer and infections

What is a PET/CT scan used to diagnose?

PET/CT scans help physicians identify areas in the body where things might not be working normally and check for issues such as cancer and infections.

What can I expect during a PET/CT scan?

A small amount of a substance called a tracer will be injected. After waiting for about an hour, you will lie down on a table that moves slowly through a PET/CT scanner, which looks like a big, open ring. The scanner will take pictures of your body from different angles.

The scan takes around 30 to 60 minutes, depending on what part of your body is being scanned and how many images are needed.

How do I prepare for a PET/CT scan?

To prepare for a PET/CT scan, you will receive specific instructions from your healthcare provider. Here are some general guidelines that are commonly followed:

  • 24 hours before: Avoid strenuous physical activity (heavy lifting, vigorous exercise, etc.).
  • 6 hours before: Do not eat or drink anything except water. If you are a diabetic patient, contact your physician to determine the safest way to prepare.
  • Eat a high-protein meal: Your last meal prior to your exam should be high-protein and low-carbohydrate. Please AVOID breads, pastas, cereals, grains, fruit, candy and other high carbohydrate or sugary foods.
  • Nicotine and chewing gum: The day of the exam, do not use nicotine or chewing gum.
  • Medications: When taking your morning medications the day of the exam, only drink water. You may eat a few soda crackers if you've been advised not to take your medications on an empty stomach.
  • 1-2 hours before: Drink 32 ounces of plain water.
  • Clothing: Wear comfy clothes without any metal or jewelry, as they can affect the scan. You might need to wear a hospital gown instead.

Remember, it's important to follow the instructions you’re given to make sure the PET/CT scan gives accurate results.

What are the risks of a PET/CT scan?

PET/CT scans involve exposure to a small amount of radiation, but the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Is a PET/CT scan safe if I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant or suspect you might be, inform your healthcare provider before the PET/CT scan. They will evaluate the necessity and potential risks of the scan.

Referral required for this service. If you need one, talk to your primary care provider.

To establish care with a Aspirus St. Luke's primary care provider, call 218.249.4000 or find a clinic near you.

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