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What is a PET exam? 

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a nuclear medicine procedure that produces pictures of the body’s biological functions. PET is able to capture chemical and physiological changes related to metabolism, as opposed to gross anatomy and structure, which is obtained by CT and MRI. This is important since function changes are often present before structural changes in tissues. PET images may therefore demonstrate pathological changes long before they would be evident on CT or MRI. 

So what is PET/CT? 

The scanner at Dakota Radiology is configured to capture both the biological image of a PET scan and the structural image of the CT scan at the same time. Because the images are captured at the same time, your body - both externally and internally - is in the same position. Both images are viewed by the radiologists and fused together through the help from advanced software tools to pinpoint exactly where disorders are located in the body. 



What is PET/CT used for? 

Oncology patients may have a PET/CT exam as it is helpful in diagnosing, staging (determining the extent of), as well as monitoring treatment response in a number of types of cancers.   PET/CT is also used to aide in the diagnosis of neurological disease and certain types of cardiovascular disease. 

How do I prepare for the exam? 

We, at Dakota Radiology, ask that you do not eat or drink anything for 4 hours prior to your exam. Wear comfortable clothing and take any prescribed medications on the day of the exam unless instructed not to do so by your physician. Our nursing staff will contact you 1 to 5 days prior to your exam with specific instructions for your particular exam. 

What can I expect during my PET/CT test? 

Upon arrival, you will be admitted by our front office personnel and escorted to the imaging area. A technologist will ask you a series of questions regarding you medical history. A small sample of blood will be taken to test your blood sugar level. Then, the technologist will inject a small amount of a radioactive tracer called FDG. Once injected, you will be asked to rest for about 60 minutes while the tracer distributes through your body and is processed by the organs being evaluated. Finally, the technologist will ask you to lie on the scanner bed and you will slowly pass through the scanner. 

Is the FDG safe? 

Fluoro Deoxyglucose or FDG is a radioactive isotope attached to a form of glucose (sugar) and is the most common isotope used in PET. To begin the PET procedure, a small amount of the glucose is injected into your bloodstream. There is no danger to you from this injection. Glucose is a common substance that every cell in your body needs in order to function. Diabetic patients need not worry; it would take 1,000,000 doses of FDG to equal the glucose in one teaspoon of sugar. 

FDG has a half-life of approximately 110 minutes and is excreted by way of the kidneys, so it is quickly dispelled from your body. FDG must pass multiple quality control measures before it is used for any patient injections. 

Does it hurt? 

Other than the injection of the isotope, which is no different than any other injection, there is no pain involved in a PET/CT scan. 

Will I need someone to drive me? 

There are no side effects from the PET scan, so assuming that you normally drive, you will be able to drive yourself from the exam. 

How long will the exam last? 

Expect to be at Dakota Radiology between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Can I schedule my PET/CT exam? 

The PET/CT exam is not a self-referral exam. Your physician’s office will call us to schedule a time that is convenient for you. We will be required to have a signed order from your physician to procede with the exam. A schedule coordinator will contact you prior to your exam to gather necessary information. This helps enable us to get you registered and back for your exam as quickly as possible.

How will I receive my results? 

The specialty trained radiologists at Dakota Radiology will review the newly aquired PET/CT images and any previous related exams. They will dictate a detailed report explaining their findings. The report is sent to your physician. Your physician will review the PET/CT findings with you. 

Will my insurance cover my procedure? 

Many private insurance companies and Medicare provide coverage for some PET/CT procedures depending on medical necessity. The staff at Dakota Radiology will be happy to work with you to verify your benefits, eligibility and authorizations. We will submit claims as needed for your PET/CT scan. 

If the procedure cannot be covered by your insurance provider, we will be happy to develop a payment plan with you.