Radiopharmaceuticals are oral or injectable forms of radiation that are sometimes used during medical imaging tests. If you are referred for a PET scan in San Antonio , a radiopharmaceutical will be administered before your test. The dose of radiation is low and is safe for most people. Before your test, your doctor will weigh the risk of the test versus the benefits of having it, so you can feel confident that taking the radiopharmaceutical is worthwhile. Here are the facts you need to know about the use of radiopharmaceuticals during medical imaging.
Radiopharmaceuticals leave your body quickly.
During a PET scan, you will take a form of radiopharmaceutical called FDG. FDG is a form of glucose that is radioactive. It is highly controlled and tested for safety and has a half-life of about 110 minutes. As a result, the body expels it quickly. The majority of the FDG completely decomposes in the body, and the rest is removed through urine. Unlike some forms of radioactive medicine, there is no need to be sequestered from your family to protect them from radiation. Approximately 90% of the FDG will be gone from your body before you leave the testing center.
The radiopharmaceutical is absorbed by the organ being tested.
During a PET scan, the radiopharmaceutical that is administered is absorbed by the organ your doctor wants to examine. This makes the organ easier to see and helps to highlight any abnormalities. If you have cancer, using a radiopharmaceutical also allows your doctor to see if a tumor is active, rather than just seeing the structure of it, as you can on other imaging tests.
Some patients cannot use radiopharmaceuticals.
In some cases, allergies prevent patients from being able to use radiopharmaceuticals. You may also not be able to use them during breastfeeding or if you are on medications that could trigger a dangerous interaction. Typically, radiopharmaceuticals are safe during pregnancy, but your doctor will make the decision based on your specific health needs.