How To Prepare For A Pet Scan

Pet scans are a key tool that radiologists use to diagnose a variety of conditions. Many people are familiar with the PET scan process, but what they might not know is PET scan prep is a vital step to a successful exam. Let’s discuss what a PET scan is, what it is used for, and how to prepare for a PET scan. 

What is a PET Scan?

A positron emission tomography (PET scan) is a nuclear medicine imaging test that is used to reveal how tissues and organs are functioning. During the exam, a patient is injected with a harmless radioactive dye called a tracer. Once the dye is in the body, it is absorbed by the body’s organs and tissues. From there, this allows the PET scan to see how well the organs and tissues are functioning. 

What is a PET Scan used for?

A radiologist may draw on PET scans as an imaging tool in a range of scenarios. In fact, they can even be used in combination with different scans to maximize the imaging results. That being said, these are some of the most common conditions PET scans can be used to diagnose or monitor:

How To Prepare For A PET Scan

Prior to the scan, your doctor will provide you with specific directions that are in your best interest to adhere to. Here are some of the main instructions you will be asked to follow:

The day before your exam you will be asked to follow a sugar-free, limited carbohydrate diet that includes foods like tofu, nuts, meat, and non-starchy vegetables for 24 hours prior.

You should avoid beverages and foods such as: 

  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Bread and pasta
  • Candy, including chewing gum and mints 
  • Dairy or non-dairy milk and yogurt
  • Natural fruits and fruit juices
  • Cereal and rice
  • Alcoholic beverages

On exam day there are some vital ways that you should be preparing for your PET scan. 

Whether you are receiving anesthesia or not, it is best to refrain from consuming food and drinks during the morning, unless it is a few sips of water. 

15 to 30 minutes before, arrive at your scan so you can check-in and fill out any additional information. Remember, metal can cause interference with testing equipment, so you may be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any jewelry, including body-piercings. Keep in mind that, you cannot undergo a PET-MRI with nonapproved medical devices or metal implants.

The most important thing you should remember during your PET scan prep is to follow the instructions that your doctor gives to you leading up to the imaging exam. Sticking to these guidelines will help produce the best images for your radiologist to interpret. If you are in need of a PET scan in Manhattan, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified radiologists today.