Preparing for Your PET/CT Exam

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Preparing for Your Exam

IMPORTANT: Due to the rapidly changing coronavirus COVID-19 situation, please review this information before visiting any Lifespan facility or outpatient practice for an appointment or procedure. If needed, please call 401-444-7777 to reschedule your appointment.

What is a PET/CT Scan?

A PET/CT scan is a highly advanced medical imaging tool. Positron emission tomography (PET) shows your body’s metabolic activity, while the computed tomography (CT) shows your anatomy. When combined, the PET and CT scan shows what is happening inside your body, including both normal and abnormal metabolic activity, as well as the anatomic details of the area where the normal and abnormal activity is taking place.

PET CT equipment at Rhode Island Hospital

When to Call the PET/CT Department

Call us in advance of your scan day if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or think there is a chance you might be pregnant.

Please Note: If your blood glucose level is outside of the recommended levels or you have not followed the specific instructions prior to your test (special diet, medications, fasting, etc.), your scan will need to be rescheduled.

Do not hesitate to call us with any questions at 401-444-7777.

A PET/CT scan is most often used to diagnose, detect, and localize a variety of common cancers and infections. PET/CT scans can also be used to assess neurological conditions and certain cardiac conditions.

The radiopharmaceutical that we use for PET/CT scans is ordered for each patient based on weight and time, so it is very important that you arrive on time for your scan. Should you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please call us at 401-444-7777.

If you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, please call the PET/CT department prior to your appointment.

Please leave any personal belongings (jewelry, glasses, etc.) at home when having an outpatient exam performed at any of our facilities to avoid misplacement.

Prepare for Your PET/CT Scan

When you arrive in our PET/CT department, you will be asked for the completed brief history sheet and medication list, which you can download and print here:

Download the history sheet to bring with you

Because this test relies on the measurement of metabolic activity of your heart, it is very important that you follow the instructions carefully.

After Your PET/CT Scan

The radiopharmaceutical used in PET/CT is short-lived and should pose little risk of significant radiation exposure to your family and friends.  However it is always good practice to minimize unnecessary radiation exposure to others, especially young children and pregnant women.  Therefore, please follow these instructions for approximately eight hours after your scan:

  • Avoid unnecessary prolonged contact with young children and pregnant women.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after using the restroom.
  • Drink plenty of fluids after your scan and empty your bladder frequently as this will help flush the remaining radioactivity from your body.