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How To Prepare For A Pet Scan

You might have heard about PET scans. It is an imaging test that doctors use to identify any underlying disease a person may have. Doctors can use this scan to evaluate many vitals like oxygen intake, blood flow, and metabolism to find clues for diseases such as cancer, brain malfunctioning, and problems related to the heart.

If you want to know more about PET scans, then you should keep reading. One might be a bit worried after being recommended a PET scan. But, you don’t have to worry because we will try to cover all the crucial aspects of PET scans.

Preparation before a PET scan

You need to start preparing for the PET scan a few days before the scan. You will get the list of things to do for the scan. Doctors advise not to avoid any strenuous activity for 24 to 48 hours before the scan. You don’t have to worry because your medical team will help you. They will ask you some questions. Like if you have any allergies or any other medical conditions like diabetes. You should tell them if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are claustrophobic then you must inform your doctor.

What to do before the scan?

You have to take specific measures right before the scan. These might vary from person to person and also depend on the specific scan that you will receive. As we said earlier, you should avoid doing any strenuous activity before the scan. Avoid doing exercise a day before the scan. You should follow the diet recommended to you by your specialist for half a day to a full day. You should eat or drink anything for six hours just before the scan. But intake of water during these hours is alright. 

Wear comfortable clothing for the PET scan

You should wear comfortable clothing on the day of the scan. Ensure that you wear loose clothes. You may have to change your clothes before the scans, and you might have to slip into a hospital gown. Don’t bring any valuable things with you like jewellery or a watch, pins or brooches. You might have trouble safe-keeping them in a hurry. Also, you have to get rid of anything made of metal like glasses, dentures, or pins. You won’t be allowed to wear such items during the test. 

You will be given an IV of a radioactive substance into your body. This substance is called a radioactive tracer. It takes around 30 to 90 minutes then it spreads into your body. You will have to stay put during this time. Try to be calm and relaxed. 

In addition to the tracer, you might also receive a special dye known as a contrast. These substances will help make images from the PET scans easier to interpret. You will be asked to drink the contrast medium, or the nurse might put it in the IV. 

After the medium and contrast have spread in your body, it’s time to start the scan. You may lie on your back during the scan. But you may lie in another position, it depends on your doctor.

During the PET scan

A PET scan may last typically for 30 minutes to an hour. The device used for scanning is donut-shaped. During the scan, the table slides through the hole. First, your specialist will scan you to find out if your body is in the right position to start getting images. This is followed by the tables sliding to and fro. Be calm and stay still. You may have to hold your breath. This is done to ensure that the images formed are clear and accurate. The table may be lowered or raised during the scan. Technologists do this to take the pictures with better clarity and from the desired angle. Your technologist will talk to you so that you feel comfortable.

After the PET scan

Right after the scan, you should drink about five glasses of water. Drinking a lot of water will help radioactive substances get rid of your body. Nursing mothers should stop breastfeeding for a day after the scan. If you have symptoms like nausea, itchiness, rashes, tremors, pain, etc., then you should notify your medical team immediately. 

After the scan, you can return to your usual life. You can take your usual diet and do other activities as usual. 

Imaging results

Preparing for a PET scan according to your doctor’s instructions can improve the clarity of your results and give your doctor  important insights into your condition. Choosing the right image centre can greatly improve your experience with this important procedure and minimise stress. 

Envision Imaging is committed to creating a safe and comfortable environment for all patients undergoing imaging tests, including PET scans. Our compassionate approach involves working on accurate image quality and improving physician workflows by delivering results quickly  via electronic medical records (EMRs).

Summing up

We have touched on all the aspects of preparing for the PET scan. We talked about what to do before the PET scan. You might have some idea about the scans like what to do right before the scan. We also gave an idea of what to do after the scan. If you are asked for this scan, then you shouldn’t worry. You just need to follow your doctor’s instructions and keep a few things mentioned here for your reference. You should not be wary of this scan but stay calm and relaxed about this.


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