Preparing for the Day of PET Treatment

The Positron Emission Tomography procedure is a non-invasive treatment that is highly safe with the most common complaint being boredom. Anesthesia is not used during PET scans and the patient is able to perform their regular activities following a PET scan. The patient is also awake throughout the whole procedure, which takes between 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Despite this simple and non-invasive procedure, there are some actions that a patient has to take prior to a brain PET scan. These include:

  • Avoid eating and drinking for 4 hours prior to the appointment time with the exception of water.
  • On the day of the PET exam, avoid: strenuous exercise, concentrated sugars (candy and/or juices), caffeine, alcohol, or smoking.
  • Take any prescribed medications on the day of your scan with water, unless a physician has instructed you to not.
  • Bring copies of your most recent computed tomography (CT), x-ray, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results with you on the day of the PET scan.
  • Consult your doctor prior to a PET scan if you are either: diabetic, pregnant, think you are pregnant, or a nursing mother. In these instances, approval is required prior to PET imaging.
  • For the PET scan, wear warm clothes and socks that are comfortable.
  • Leave valuables at home.
  • Arrive early to fill out medical forms prior to PET imaging.
  • Be prepared to lie still for the 15 to 75 minutes that the scan takes to be performed.
  • Following the PET scan, drink plenty of water and other fluids to flush the radioactive tracer from your body.

For individuals with diabetes, it is advised that you discuss PET imaging preparation with your physician prior to your exam. As PET scans often involve the administration of glucose into the body, it is important that your physician’s recommendations for preparing for a PET scan are followed. Some PET preparations for diabetics are:

  • Do not consume any food or drink 6 hours prior to the exam. However, if you begin to feel sick due to a drop in blood sugar levels, it is advised that you eat a few saltine crackers and elevate your legs.
  • Drink plenty of water prior to a PET scan.
  • The day before a PET exam, it is advised that you eat a normal dinner and have a bedtime snack.
  • Consult with your physician prior to a PET exam about whether you are able to take any insulin or diabetes related medication prior to the PET exam.
  • On the day of the PET exam, avoid: strenuous exercise, concentrated sugars (candy and/or juices), caffeine, alcohol, or smoking.
  • Bring copies of your most recent computed tomography (CT), x-ray, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results with you on the day of the PET scan.
  • For the PET scan, wear warm clothes and socks that are comfortable.
  • Leave valuables at home.
  • Arrive early to fill out medical forms prior to PET imaging.
  • Be prepared to lie still for the 15 to 75 minutes that the scan takes to be performed.
  • Following the PET scan, drink plenty of water and other fluids to flush the radioactive tracer from your body.


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