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PET/CT whole body scans are used to look for disease, inflammation or infection in your body.

How does it work?

The PET (positron emission tomography) identifies physiological changes in your body. The CT scan shows the bodies’ structure.

Combining the two scans together gives a more accurate picture of disease or infection in your body.

Important points before your scan

Please inform the department if you are diabetic and give as much information to the scanning department as possible to make your scan easier. If you have recently had a radiology examination at another hospital such as CT, MRI or a nuclear medicine study, it would be helpful if you would bring these results with you

Please do not eat for six hours before your test. This includes tea, coffee, milk, sweets, cough medicine, fruit juice, and alcohol.

  • Do not have any cough medicine, or any oral preparation for any other tests, glucose drips, TPN (Total Parenternal Nutrition) or insulin for 6 hours before the test.
  • Do not exercise before your test.
  • Do not have a barium test 10 days before your test.
  • Unless indicated by your consultant, you should not have chemotherapy for 10 days or radiotherapy for three months before your scan.
  • If you are unsure about any medications you are taking please inform the department the day before your test.

How long will the test take?

Before the scan a technologist will explain the procedure, give you an opportunity to ask any questions and go through a checklist of questions.

They will then put a cannula in a small vein in your arm. After measuring your blood sugar levels the technologist will inject a small amount of radioactive sugar (18F FDG) into a vein in your arm. The injection will not make you feel any different or have any side effects.

You must then wait for one hour in our comfortable PET/CT uptake room. During this time it is important that you are as relaxed as possible and warm. You cannot read or listen to music during the hour. Please note you must wait in the uptake room for one hour without a relative, friend or carer. If this is not possible please inform the department before your test so we can accommodate you.

After the hour we will ask you to lie on your back on the scanning table. Again, depending on the indications for performing your test, the scan will take between 20 minutes and 45 minutes. Most scans are approximately 20 minutes. After the test the technologist will check the quality of the scan and let you know when you are free to leave. Please allow approximately 2.5 hours for your appointment.

Are there any risks?

There are no immediate side effects. You are radioactive for six hours in total. The amount of radioactivity injected is relatively small and has a half-life of 110 minutes. Most of it is passed out through the kidneys.

We advise you to stay away from young children and pregnant women for four hours after you leave the department. You can eat, drink and travel as normal after the test.

The test is quite safe except for a possible effect on the baby in pregnant women. The test is not advised if you are pregnant or are breast feeding.

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