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Your First PET - CT Scan: What to Expect

Last updated 7 years ago

The Positron Emission Test scan, or PET scan, is one of the most important tools in a radiologist’s toolbox. Used primarily in cancer diagnosis and detection, the PET/CT scan is, unfortunately, not as widely known as the MRI or CT scan.

PET scans are very different from the MRI or CT scan, and if you’ve been scheduled for one, it is important to know a few things about it. Always ask your Radiologist about any past or upcoming procedures. Make sure to ask your local Tower Radiologist questions, including these:

  • What is a PET/CT scan?
    A PET scan involves an injection of a very small amount of radiopharmaceutical, which then travels through the body. The PET/CT scan monitors the radiopharmaceutical as it travels through the body, where it is mostly absorbed into muscle and tissue. For instance cancer tends to be very active, thus absorbing more radiopharmaceutical and showing up in the scan.
  • What am I Getting Into?
    It can take as long as 60 minutes for the radiopharmaceutica to absorb into your tissue, during which time you’ll need to be still. The PET scan itself can take as long as 60 minutes, depending on the type of scan. Sometime you may be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • After the Procedure

Drink, a lot of water for the rest of the day; normally one resumes their normal day-to-day activities immediately following the procedure. Your sub-specialized radiologist will analyze the results and pass them back to your ordering physician, who will give you the diagnosis.

REMEMBER, The scheduling staff will inform you how to prepare for the procedure. While each testing lab is a little different in this regard, you can expect to be asked to not eat for 4 to 6 hours beforehand and not to engage in strenuous activity the same day of the procedure.

If you have been scheduled for a PET/CT scan and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your local Tower Radiology Center. At Tower Radiology Centers, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have and help put your mind at ease.



The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing medical advice. You should contact your doctor to obtain advice with respect to any particular medical issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create a doctor-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the medical office or any individual doctor or physician.


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