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Positron Emission Tomography

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by Chwistek M



What to Expect

Prior to Test

Description of Test

You will be given a radioactive substance. This may be done through an injection, or in some cases, you will be asked to breathe in a gas. It will travel through your blood to the area of the body being studied. It takes 30-90 minutes for the substance to be absorbed by the tissue. When the substance has been absorbed, the scan can take place.
You will lie on a table and be moved into a machine that looks like a large, square doughnut. This machine detects and records the energy levels from the substance that was injected earlier. The images are viewed on a computer monitor. The scan lasts about 30-45 minutes. You may be asked to perform specific tasks before or during the test. For example, during a heart PET scan, you may be asked to walk on a treadmill.

After Test

Drink plenty of fluids to help the radioactive substance pass from your body.

How Long Will It Take?

At least two hours

Will It Hurt?

Except for the pinprick from the injection, a PET scan is a painless procedure. People who are uncomfortable in closed or tight spaces may have some anxiety .



Society of Nuclear Medicine



The College of Family Physicians of Canada

Health Canada



PET scan. NHS Choices website. Available at: Updated July 3, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2014.

Positron emission tomography—computed tomography (PET/CT). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: Updated March 28, 2013. Accessed September 5, 2014.

Positron emission tomography (PET scan). Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: Updated February 23, 2009. Accessed September 5, 2014.

Positron emission tomography (PET scan). Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:,P07654/. Accessed September 5, 2014.


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