The whole body PET scan (PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography) is a safe, non-invasive imaging technique that can create detailed pictures of organs and tissues inside the body.
A whole body PET scan can be used as part of the early diagnosis process, assisting your physician in choosing the best method for treatment. The PET may determine whether cancer is isolated to a specific area of the body, or has spread to other organs, before a treatment is decided upon. A PET scan will help you and your physician make a better and more informed decision about your diagnosis and treatment.
How It Works
The patient is injected with a solution containing radioactive material as well as glucose. The glucose allows the solution to be quickly distributed throughout all of the tissues in the body, including muscle. The radioactive material will be detected by the PET equipment. The PET radiologist can then determine any abnormalities in the distribution of the material to help make a proper diagnosis.
What is Needed of the Patient
Because an accurate assessment of the material’s distribution is needed, the patient cannot do anything which will skew the results of the test. This means:
- Patient should not eat or drink anything for at least 7 hours (preferably nothing after the night prior) to the PET scan; this includes foods or candies in small amounts, such as gum or hard candy. The patient can drink water, but this too should be stopped at least 2 hours before the scan begins.
- During and after the injection of the material, the patient will be required to sit or lie quietly without moving, so that there will be no uneven distribution of the material. This means that the patient cannot read or talk during this time, as these activities can also adversely affect the results.
- The patient should also refrain from vigorous physical activity for 24 hours prior to the exam.
- Just before the PET scan begins, the patient will be asked to empty his or her bladder completely, to further assure a more accurate exam.
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