What is PET?
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is a powerful diagnostic tool that, in many cases, provides answers no other imaging tests can provide. This non-invasive procedure helps physicians in their diagnosis and treatment. With a PET scan, a compound that contains radioactive molecules is injected into the body. These molecules provide the tracers that allow measurement of metabolic activity. A computer records this information and converts it into pictures for diagnostic purposes.
How long does it take and does it hurt?
About an hour for the scan itself. Up to three hours total at the facility. The scan causes no pain. An IV line could be started in your hand or arm to infuse the signal-emitting tracer.
What is injected?
A very small amount of radioactive tracer. The amount of radiation you receive is about the same as radiology procedures like CT scans or nuclear medicine. You should not feel any side effects. Most of the radioactivity will be gone by the time you leave.
How do I prepare?
EATING: Eat nothing for four hours prior to the procedure. Avoid exercising for 24 hours prior.
MEDICATIONS: When we schedule your appointment, we will ask what you take and provide instructions.
CLAUSTROPHOBIC: Most patients can tolerate a PET scan. Only the part of your body being scanned is in the machine, which makes little noise.
What do I do during the scan?
Rest. Relax. For best results, you must remain still.
What will happen after the scan?
You can drive and resume normal activity immediately. To help clear radioactivity from your body, you should drink as much as possible the rest of the day and empty your bladder as often as possible.
When will I get the results?
The final results will be given to your referring physician as soon as the images are analyzed, usually within two working days.
Will my insurance cover PET?
Most insurers, including Medicare, are reimbursing for cardiac PET procedures.