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Positron Emission Tomography

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by Chwistek M



What to Expect

Prior to Test

Description of Test

A nurse or technologist will give you 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. Once 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 claustrophobic (uncomfortable in closed or tight spaces) may have some anxiety .



Society of Nuclear Medicine



The College of Family Physicians of Canada

Health Canada



Goroll AH, Mulley AG. Primary Care Medicine . 4th ed. Boston, MA: Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; 2000.

National Institutes of Health website. Available at: . Accessed July 22, 2009.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: . Updated June 2009. Accessed July 22, 2009.

Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: . Accessed July 22, 2009.


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