PET and CT Scan FAQ’s

    Are PET Scans 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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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 still active.

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.

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