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PET Scans

If your doctor has prescribed a PET scan, let the team at Banner Health assist with your tests and treatments. Learn more about PET scans from the experts.  

What Is a PET Scan?

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a type of nuclear medicine technique that is used to inspect healthy vs unhealthy tissues in the body. PET scans can be performed using a PET scanner, which detects radioactive tracers injected, swallowed, or inhaled by the patient. These tracers highlight areas of interest, such as cancer cells, by emitting positrons that the PET scanner detects. 

PET Scan vs CT Scan vs MRI Scan

PET scans are often combined with a CT scan or an MRI scan to form PET-CT or PET-MRI scans. A CT scan uses X-rays to take detailed pictures of the body, while an MRI scan uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of organs and tissues. In contrast, a PET scan detects gamma rays emitted by the radioactive tracers, providing information about the metabolic activity of tissues. 

When Is a PET Scan Used?

Your doctor may prescribe a PET imaging scan to assess how your body is functioning, including blood flow and oxygen utilization. PET scans are useful for diagnosing cancer, heart disease and brain disorders, and monitoring treatment effectiveness. The scan shows detailed images that help doctors evaluate if a disease is progressing or a treatment is working.

How to Prepare for a PET Scan

Proper preparation can help ensure the accuracy of your PET scan results. Here are some important steps to follow:

  1. Diet and Fasting: You should stop eating at least 6 hours before your PET scan. Only drink water during this fasting period. Avoid consuming any foods or drinks containing caffeine or sugar, as they can affect the scan results, particularly your blood sugar levels.
  2. Medication: Continue taking your prescribed medications unless your doctor advises otherwise. Inform your doctor of all the medications and supplements you are currently taking, as some may need to be paused before the scan.
  3. Clothing: Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Avoid wearing jewelry or any accessories with metal, as they can interfere with the scan.
  4. Allergies and Medical Conditions: Inform your doctor if you have any allergies, particularly to iodine, as some PET scans may use a contrast dye. This is important to prevent any potential allergic reaction. Additionally, let your doctor know if you have any medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 
  5. Hydration: Stay well-hydrated. Drink water before your scan. This helps the body eliminate the radioactive tracers more quickly after the scan.
  6. Previous Scans: If you have had previous imaging scans or treatments, bring those records with you. This can help the radiologist compare results and provide a more accurate diagnosis.
  7. Claustrophobia: If you have a fear of enclosed spaces, inform your doctor. They may provide a mild sedative to help you relax during the scan.

By following these preparation steps, you can help ensure a smooth and accurate PET scan experience. If you have any questions or concerns, Banner Health is here to assist you. 

What to Expect from a PET Scan

PET scans may be performed at a Banner Health hospital, clinic, or at one of our Banner Imaging locations.

First, the radioactive tracers will need to be swallowed, inhaled or injected. These tracers allow for the gamma camera to pick up the gamma rays from the radioactive tracers, meaning the PET scan machine does not produce radiation. A PET scan occurs in a scanner where you must lie down with no movement. The test is painless, and the tracers should leave your body after 60 hours. Once the test is complete, your doctor can examine the results to see healthy tissue and organs compared to unhealthy tissue and organs.

How Long Does a PET Scan Take?

A PET scan typically takes about two hours.

PET Scan Risks

Since the radioactive tracer is a small amount, there are no known risk factors associated with a PET scan. Inform your doctor of any allergies, if you’re pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.

Where Can I Get a PET Scan?

You can get a PET Scan at many of our conveniently located Banner Imaging facilities.

Trust the professionals at Banner Health to assist with your PET scan testing and treatment options.

Find an Imaging Location Near You

Whatever your need, your doctor can refer you to one of our conveniently located free-standing imaging centers or one of our hospitals.