- A patient should eat nothing within six hours of a scheduled test, but is encouraged to drink water any time before the test.
- Medications may be taken, as prescribed. However, if taking insulin, consult with your doctor for appropriate arrangements regarding this medication; any other oral diabetes medications may be taken.
- A blood test to check kidney function is needed before a scan; this determines if a patient can tolerate a contrast dye.
Radiotracer before PET-CT scan
Patients receiving a PET-CT scan are first injected with a sugar-like substance (F18-FDG), a radiotracer. It acts as a marker for cancer cells, if present. Patients wait 45 to 60 minutes for the radiotracer to be absorbed within the body before the scan is conducted.
Contrast dye and/or drink before CT scan
Depending on the CT scan ordered, a patient may receive a contrast dye, given through an intravenous injection, and/or drink. The contrast dye or drink helps to identify tumors and other abnormalities.
Is the test painful?
No, neither the combined PET-CT study nor a separate PET or CT scan is painful. The patient typically lies comfortably on his or her back during the test. Depending on the study, street clothes or a hospital gown may be worn.
A combined PET-CT study averages 45 minutes, with total treatment time, including preparation, about 90 minutes. A CT scan takes less than a minute.
Scheduling a test
A patient's referring physician's office will schedule a PET-CT exam, which is available Monday through Friday in the morning. Preauthorization from a patient's insurance company is necessary before the exam.
On test day, please go to Outpatient Services, just off the main lobby (New Britain General campus), for registration before proceeding to Radiology, located on the ground floor, building N.