Is PET Safe?
The risks associated with a PET scan are very minimal. The quantity of
radiation is low and the FDG degrades quickly so that no detectable radioactivity
is present after several hours. In addition to the radioactive decomposition,
the remaining FDG is eliminated from the body through urine. Family members
are not at risk for exposure since greater than 90% of the radioactivity
has left the body or decomposed before the patient has left the center.
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Alzheimer's & PET Scans
What is a Radiopharmaceutical?
A radiopharmaceutical is a radioactive drug. The most commonly used PET
radiopharmaceutical is FDG, which is a radioactive form of glucose (sugar).
Radiopharmaceuticals are produced by physicists and chemists.
What is FDG?
2-Deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-Glucose, or FDG, is a type glucose (sugar) and
is the most common radiopharmaceutical used in PET. To begin the PET procedure,
a small amount of glucose is injected into your bloodstream. There is
no danger to you from this injection. Glucose is a common substance that
every cell in your body needs in order to function. Diabetic patients
do not need to worry; it would take 1,000,000 doses of FDG to equal the
glucose in 1 teaspoon of sugar.
FDG has a half-life of approximately 110 minutes, so it is quickly expelled
from your body. FDG must pass multiple quality control measures before
it is used for any patient injection.
What Happens After My Scan?
After your scan, you will get up from the scanner bed and check out with
the receptionist. You will be notified when your results will be available
to your physician.
Are There Potential Side Effects to a PET Scan?
No, there are no side effects to having a PET scan performed.
When Will I Get My Results?
After the radioactive tracer is processed by the organ being studied and
the scanner records the information, the images are interpreted by a trained
radiologist. Your PET scan results will be sent to your physician generally
within 24-48 hours of your PET scan.
How Often Should I Have a PET Scan?
If you are under a physician's care, you should follow your physician's
recommendations for the frequency of having a PET scan.
Can I See My Results?
Yes, your physician will have the PET scan results usually within 1-2 business
days of your PET scan, and you may request a review of the PET scan results
with your physician.
Are There Alternatives to PET?
Yes and no. There are examinations that can be performed. However, there
is no other metabolic (biological) scanning technique other than PET at
this time. CT and MRI, for example, both examine the anatomical (physical)
structure. Therefore, they can be useful in determining the size and location
of a tumor; however, neither of them can determine whether a tumor is
No other imaging tool exists that scans for brain disorders.
What Should I Do If My Physician Does Not Know About PET?
If your physician does not know about PET, you can direct him/her to
Physician Portal for additional information. You can also enter your physician's name
and address into the form on the Patient Portal to have additional information
mailed to him/her by
clicking here. You may also wish to seek a second opinion.
Why is PET Not Well Known? Why Have I Never Heard of PET Before?
While PET has been around for years, it has only been in the last few years
that PET has moved from the research realm to the diagnostic/clinical sphere.
How Many PET Studies Are Preformed Per year?
Approximately 900,000 PET scans were performed in 2004. The number of PET
scans are increasing dramatically, now that PET is no longer only for
research. It is estimated that by 2010, in excess of 2,000,000 PET scans
will be performed.
How Does a PET Scan Differ From CT or MRI Scans?
CT and MRI scans are anatomic imaging modalities, which means they look
at the size and shape of organs and body structures. A PET scan is a metabolic
imaging modality, which means it looks at function. The information collected
from a PET scan is different from any other test that is available.
Is a PET Scan Painless?
The only pain involved is the needle prick when you receive the radiopharmaceutical
injection which does not differ from any other type of injection.
How Much Does a PET Scan Cost?
A PET scan generally costs anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000.