Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging test that helps determine a person’s physical state by revealing and examining the chemical activity in their body. Unlike CT and MRI, PET photographs the body at the cellular level, allowing doctors to gather a great deal of information that can help with the diagnosis and treatment of certain illnesses. It can reveal vital information such as blood flow, oxygen intake, and rate of glucose metabolism in the tissues and organs.
Despite PET’s effectiveness, many people are still reluctant to get the test even with their doctor’s recommendation. They are anxious about the fact that PET scans involve the use of radioactive tracers. It worries them even more that these substance have to be introduced into the body. They feel like they are letting their system be exposed to radiation.
There’s no denying the radioactive nature of the tracers. However, it’s this property of such substance that makes imaging through PET possible. The tracers react to the electromagnetic wave produced by the scanner in different ways depending on the state of the tissues that contain them. It is important to note, however, that the exposure to the radiation emitted by the tracers is very minimal.
If there’s a risk you should worry about regarding your intake of tracers, it should be allergic reaction to the substance or dangerous reaction with other drugs you’re taking. If you are expecting, it’s very likely that your baby might suffer the consequence of radiation exposure.
All of these can be prevented by following your doctor’s advice. This is why it is crucial to consult your doctor first before undergoing any imaging test, particularly a PET scan. During the consultation, your doctor will ask you if you are pregnant, if you are currently taking medication, or if you are allergic to potent substances like tracers. Depending on the information you will provide your doctor, you can be allowed to have the test or use an alternative.
It is important to be completely honest with your doctor about your condition if you want your PET scan to be successful. Apart from that, by diligently following their advice, you’ll avoid all possible risks involved in a PET scan and actually get the most suitable treatment for whatever issues the results may reveal.
Risks of a PET Scan, healthline.com
Is radiation from a CT or PET scan dangerous?, ustswmedicine.org
Positron emission tomography scan, mayoclinic.org