How to Prepare for a PET Scan

Are you scheduled for a PET scan? If so, you may be wondering what to expect. A PET scan is an imaging test that uses radioactive tracers to create pictures of the inside of your body.

Keep reading as we discuss preparing for a PET scan and what to expect during the procedure.

Man in white shirt and black pants lying down inside a PET Scan machine.

Fast for Several Hours

If you’re scheduled for a PET scan, your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare. Before your PET scan, you will likely be asked to fast for several hours prior to your exam.

This is because the tracer used in the scan can cause nausea if you have food in your stomach. You will also most likely be asked to drink water before the scan, which helps clear the tracer from your body.

Stick to a Limited Diet 24 Hours Before the Scan

You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for at least six hours before the scan. This is because food and drink may affect the scan results and cause nausea.

It will be best to avoid caffeine and alcohol for 24 hours before the test. Caffeine and alcohol can increase your anxiety and make it challenging to stay still during the scan.

Limit sugar intake for 24 hours before the test as well. Too much sugar could potentially produce false positive results on a PET scan.

If you have diabetes, you must follow a special diet before the test. We recommend you speak with your health care provider about any specific dietary needs.

Wear Comfortable Clothing

You will need to remove all jewelry and metal objects from your body before the scan. The reason being is that metal can interfere with the PET imagining machinery. For this reason, it’s best to leave your jewelry and valuables at home.

You will also be asked to remove any clothing with metal fasteners, such as buttons or zippers. You may be given a hospital gown to wear prior to the test.

Arrive Early for the PET Scan

It’s recommended you arrive at the imaging center at least 30 minutes before your PET scan. Doing this will give you time to check in and change into a gown.

You will sign a consent form before the procedure. This form gives your permission to perform the scan.

They will also ask about your medical history and any allergies you may have. Be sure to tell the staff if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Relax and Prepare Yourself Mentally

Once you are ready, the technologist will inject a small amount of radioactive tracer into your intravenous (IV) line. The tracer will travel through your body and collect in the areas of your body using the most energy.

You will then lie on a long table that slides into the PET machine, which looks like a large donut.  Once you’re comfortably situated, the scan will begin.

The scanner will take pictures of the tracer in your body. The entire procedure will take about 30 minutes.

After the PET scan, you can return to your normal activities. The radioactive tracer will leave your body naturally through your urine. You should drink plenty of fluids after the scan to help flush the tracer out of your system.

A PET scan can provide your doctor with important information about your health. Preparing for the procedure ahead of time will help ensure that the scan goes smoothly.

Find PET Scan Resources at Cardiac Imaging, Inc.

Cardiac Imaging, Inc. is proud to offer PET scan services in California and throughout the United States. We are the leading provider of nuclear cardiology and PET scanning services. In addition, we provide a full range of cardiac imaging services.

Our experienced cardiologists and radiologists provide our patients with the highest quality of care. In addition, we are committed to providing the best possible imaging services.

If scheduled for a PET scan, we will work with you to ensure that you are adequately prepared. We understand that the process can be daunting, and we are here to help.

If you have any questions about PET imaging or PET/CT scans, reach out to our team. We’d be happy to help connect you with the care you need.