Frequently Asked Questions
Your PET/CT exam results may have a major impact on your physician’s diagnosis of a potential health problem and should a disease be detected, how a treatment plan is developed and managed. A PET/CT exam not only helps your physician diagnose a problem, it also helps predict the likely outcome of various therapeutic alternatives, pinpoint the best approach to treatment, and monitor your progress. If you’re not responding as well as expected, you can be switched to a more effective therapy immediately.
When you arrive, we will take a review of your history and any past exams. For the PET portion of the exam you’ll receive a radiopharmaceutical injection. This is a radioactive tracer that must pass multiple quality control measures before it is used for any patient injection. PET radiopharmaceuticals lose their radioactivity very quickly (2 minutes to 2 hours) and only very small amounts are injected. In all cases, little or no radioactivity will remain in your body 6 hours after injection. For most studies, you’ll have to wait for the radiopharmaceutical to distribute itself-typically 30 minutes to an hour. During this time you will be asked to relax.
You will lie on a comfortable padded table. The table will move slowly through the tube-shaped PET/CT scanner as it acquires the information needed to generate diagnostic images. You will be asked to lie very still during the scan because movement can interfere with the results. For the CT scan you will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to minimize body movements. During the scan, you might hear a humming noise but you will not feel anything unusual. You may feel the table move while images are being taken at certain locations on your body. The technologist will monitor you during the scan. The specific details of your upcoming exam will be explained fully by the technologist or your physician.
The PET/CT scan should last between 20 and 45 minutes. The exam procedure can vary depending what we are looking for and what we discover along the way. Plan to spend two hours with us.
You may leave us as soon as the exam is complete. Unless you have received special instructions, you will be able to eat and drink immediately-drinking lots of fluids after the exam will help remove any of the radiopharmaceutical that may still be in your system. In the meantime, we’ll begin preparing the results for review by our diagnosticians, and then by your physician, who will tell you what we’ve learned.
Be assured the PET/CT exams are a safe and effective diagnostic procedure. The radiopharmaceuticals used in PET don’t remain in your system for long, so there’s no reason to avoid interacting with other people once you have left. To be extra safe, wait for a few hours before getting too close to an infant or anyone’s who’s pregnant.
If you are a diabetic, let us know ahead of time so we can work with your physician to determine the safest possible way for you to prepare for your exam.
The medication we inject you with has to be ordered one day prior to your test. If you do not inform us of your cancellation before we have enough time to cancel your medicine, you will be responsible for the cost of the medication.
Staying hydrated before the test will help your body absorb the radioactive sugar given to you-ultimately making the results of your test clearer.
The average cost of the scan is about $3,000, however most insurance companies cover the cost of the exam, minus the cost of the co-pay.
Once you have completed the scan, we will begin preparing the results for review by our diagnosticians, and then by your physician, who will tell you what we’ve learned.
FDG is an abbreviated name for the radiopharmaceutical Fluorodeoxyglucose (2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose), a sugar compound that is labeled with radioactive fluoride. FDG is used in the molecular imaging modality called Positron Emission Tomography (PET). FDG is administered intravenously and is used to determine how certain organs and tissues in the body are functioning at the cellular level by measuring glucose metabolism. It is widely used for functional studies in neurology, cardiology and oncology. Since diseases are manifestations of biological processes, functional imaging through PET has shown to be a significant diagnostic approach in oncology, cardiology and neurology.