What is a PET-CT?

A PET-CT combines 2 types of imaging exams to find changes in your body at different stages of a disease such as cancer:
  • PET (positron emission tomography) looks at how the cells in your body process a radioactive tracer that you drink, inhale, or have injected.
  • CT (computed tomography) uses X-ray technology to produce detailed images. Learn More

A Note About Tracers

We use the lowest dose of radioactive tracer to get the highest quality images. The radiation risk is very low compared to potential benefits.

How to Prepare for a PET-CT

A PET-CT appointment takes about two hours. The actual scan takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • When to Arrive - Please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment.
  • Eating and Drinking - Please do not eat or drink anything except water for at least 6 hours before your appointment. Avoid all candies, gum and mints.
  • Diabetes - If you have diabetes, please do not eat or drink anything except water or take insulin for at least 4 hours before your appointment. Avoid all candies, gum and mints.
  • Contrast - Most patients receive IV contrast during a PET-CT exam. We will give you more details at your appointment. Please let your doctor know if you have ever experienced an allergic reaction to IV contrast. Contrast helps us see the images more clearly. We carefully assess your risk before giving you contrast.
  • Medicines - If you need to take your medication in the morning, please take it with plenty of water.
  • Claustrophobia - If you have claustrophobia, ask your doctor about medicine to help you relax. We don't have any in our department.
  • Exercise - Please do not exercise for at least 24 hours before the exam.
  • Clothing - If possible, please wear loose, comfortable clothing without metal (zippers, underwire bras, etc). Metal can blur the images. We may ask you to change into hospital attire.
  • Pregnant or Breastfeeding - Please tell your doctor and your technologist if you might be pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. We will ask you to stop breastfeeding for a short time, pump in the interim and throw out the milk. 
  • Children - Please don’t bring kids or pregnant people with you to your appointment.
  •  Valuables - Please leave your valuables at home. You can keep your things with you during the exam, but we suggest you leave your valuables at home so you don’t have to worry about them.