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PET Scan Procedure

PET Scan Procedure

Understanding PET scan and its procedure will help remove the fear and anxiety from the individual's mind, undergoing this diagnostic test. In this article, we will be discussing the procedure and preparations required before undergoing such a diagnostic test.
Marlene Alphonse
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
In order to decipher the working of the body, medical science has come up with many new and advanced medical tests and tools. A PET scan is a modern invention which helps doctors review the functioning of the organs and tissues in the human body. This diagnostic tool uses a radioactive chemical element which is injected into the body and which travels throughout the body. Using this technique the internal working of the body can be viewed and the presence of any abnormality can be detected. PET scan is mainly used in research, particularly in the field of oncology, which is the study of different types of cancer.

An Overview of the PET Scan

PET scan or Positron Emission Tomography is a modern medical equipment that helps monitor the human body system functions and any unnecessary development can be detected to the minutest detail. The working of the PET scan is similar to that of the Computer Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. The history of this diagnostic test can be traced back to the 1950s when two scientists Roy Edwards and David E. Kuhl introduced the idea of using emission and transmission tomography for imaging purposes. This concept was further improved and developed by a group of scientists of the Washington School of Medicine and a full-fledged PET scan came into existence. The images captured can be viewed on a computer monitor, with the help of which the radiologist can study the working of the body. This equipment has proved to be a boon to the field of medicine. The cost of this test may vary from state to state and the nature of complaint for which the scan is to be taken. However, on an average a scan can cost anywhere between $3,000 - $6,000.

Method and Preparation

The working of the PET scan is not exactly rocket science and is quite simple to understand. Undergoing this scan is painless and causes no discomfort to the individual. However, the preparation for the scan takes a longer time than the actual procedure. Before the actual process, the individual has to undergo a CT scan. The process is carried out under the outpatient department and the duration may depend on the region of the body to be examined. The duration of a full body scan may last approximately for about 2 to 3 hours. Here are some guidelines on how to prepare for the scan.
  • Before undergoing the scan, the individual may be told to follow some directions regarding the test. The test is usually carried out on an empty stomach.
  • Water may be consumed by the individual. The person should not wear dentures, any jewelry or metal objects as it may prove to be a hindrance and produce vague results.
  • The individual is told to wear a hospital gown and is made to lie on the scanner table. A radioactive chemical, radiopharmaceutical, is injected into the body. This substance takes about one hour to travel across the body.
  • Sometimes the person may be told to drink a contrast liquid to get a clear imaging. Once the substance has spread, the table is rolled into the scanner machine, where the process of imaging stars.
  • The radioactive element lets out rays which are captured by the camera and transmitted to a computer fitted to the machine. The technician monitors the images and the presence of any disorder can be revealed in places where a bright spot appears on the screen.
  • This scan helps detect the functioning of the brain and other organs, blood circulation and also reveal the presence of tumors or cysts. Patients suffering diabetes, heart disorders or who are on prescription drugs should consult the health care provider before undergoing PET scan and radiology. Pregnant women and lactating mothers should not undergo this scan, since radiation can harm the child.
Advancement in technology and medicine has helped doctors across the world to delve deeper into the human body and detect the presence of any abnormal changes, so that appropriate treatment can be administered.