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What is a PET/CT Examination?

PET/CT imaging is a non- invasive procedure used to determine the presence and extent of most cancers, neurodegenerative disease and cardiovascular disease. In PET/CT, Nuclear Medicine images are superimposed with computed tomography (CT) to produce more precise information and accurate diagnoses. PET is able to detect certain diseases before other imaging modalities by visualizing the metabolic processes occurring in the body.

Most likely uses for PET/CT

  • To help in diagnosing cancers such as lung, breast, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, melanoma, and lymphoma.
  • Lymphoma and breast cancer patient evaluations and the response to therapy.
  • Patients with certain neurological problems.
  • Patients with certain heart problems.

How to Prepare for a PET/CT Exam

  • Drink extra fluids (especially water) the day before your scan, on the day of your exam before your appointment, and following your scan.   Do not eat or drink anything with caffeine.
  • Do not eat except for water and medications 4 hours prior to the scan.  A low carbohydrate, high protein diet is recommended for your last meal before beginning your 4 hour fast.
  • If you are diabetic injectable insulin should be taken 4 hours prior to the exam.  If you take an oral diabetic medication, it should be taken 2 hours prior to the exam.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and limit the amount of jewelry and valuables that you carry.
  • Bring a list of current medications.
  • If you are pregnant, please notify us.
  • If you are breast feeding, please note that you will not be able to breast feed for 24 hours after the test
  • Our exam table has a weight limit is 400 lbs. Please let us know if your weight is greater than 400 lbs.
  • Stay away from doing any strenuous physical activity, running, workouts, or weight lifting 24 hrs before the exam.
  • Bring a book, reading material, or small electronic device and headset with soothing music to listen to.

What to Expect Upon Arrival

  • The radioactive dose is made and ordered specifically for you and measured for your appointment time. 
  •  It is important that you arrive 15-20 minutes before your appointment time.
  • You should plan on being at the center for approximately 90 to 120 minutes.
  • You may be asked to fill out a short health screening questionnaire when you check in.
  • Your blood sugar level will be tested.
  • You will be injected with a small amount of radioactive sugar.
  • There will be a 50 - 60 minute delay between the times when you are given the radioactive sugar and when the scan is performed at which time you will be resting.
  • You will be asked to use the restroom to empty your bladder before the scan.
  • You will be asked to lie on your back for 20 - 45 minutes during the scan.

What to Expect After your PET/CT Exam

  • The level of radioactivity is minor and will be gone within 18 hours.
  • If you are breastfeeding, you will not be able to breastfeed for 24 hours after your injection of the radioactive sugar.
  • Your doctor will receive a report with the results of your exam within 3 business days.

Important Information About Scheduling your PET/CT

  • We have ordered expensive supplies for your test which can not be used for anyone else.  Please let us know at least one day in advance if you can not make the appointment.  Please be on time.
  • We will attempt to notify you in advance of any schedule change.
  • You may be asked to bring films and / or a CD-ROM from past exams, such as CT and / or MRI images if they were done at an outside institution.
  • Bring your insurance card and your doctor's order for your PET / CT.
  • Most private insurance companies and Medicare provide coverage for PET/CT procedures, depending on the diagnosis. PET/CT staff can work with you to verify benefits, eligibility and authorizations, if necessary. The staff will also submit claims as needed for your PET/CT scan; you are responsible for the payment of any amount not expected to be paid by your insurance company, such as deductibles or co-payments, unless prior arrangements have been made.

Our Locations

2242 West Harrison, Suite 103, Chicago, IL 60612

For more information or to request an appointment
please call 312.413.4900 or 877.456.UI Hospital (8462)