Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Lake Imaging offers PET at:
- St John of God Hospital – Ballarat Request an appointment
- St John of God Hosptial - Geelong Request an appointment
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an invaluable imaging technology used in most commonly in cancer management. PET makes it possible to diagnose and monitor changes in the body’s metabolism.
Positron Emission Tomography uses small amounts of a radioactive tracer (most commonly, a short-lived form of radioactive glucose called 18FDG), injected intravenously, to displays normal and abnormal metabolic patterns in various organs throughout the body.
By combining PET images with CT (computerised Tomography) scanned at the same time by the same machine, the accuracy and sensitivity of the images are maximized.
Before your procedure
What to bring:
- Your request form
- Completed questionnaires
- Any relevant previous imaging
- Your Medicare card and any concession cards
- Any medication you may need on the day
Please dress in comfortable clothes, preferably with no metal objects.
A referral from your doctor and an appointment is required for a PET examination.
You will receive detailed printed instructions from your referring doctor or specialist before the PET examination. We need to receive your referral form and know your weight before the appointment and you must fast for at least 6 hours before the examination, but you may drink small amounts of water during this time.
If you are a diabetic and need to eat at regular intervals please notify Lake Imaging when making your appointment so that special instructions can be provided. You should also let us know of any other conditions which may affect the scan, including being pregnant, breastfeeding or caring for a small child.
It is important to arrive on time for your PET examination, and give plenty of notice if you need to cancel or reschedule, as our isotope supply is costly, and has a very short shelf life.
Most patients will have an additional, diagnostic CT scan scheduled immediately after the PET/CT scan. This is done immediately on the same scanner.
The duration of both procedures, including preparation time is approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
During your procedure
What can I expect during my PET?
When you attend your appointment at Lake Imaging you will be asked to answer a few safety questions, remove any jewellery, watches etc, then change into an examination gown.
The technologist will prepare and inject the tracer into an arm vein. You will then rest alone for 45-60 minutes while the tracer distributes through the body. We may ask you to drink a liquid contrast material during this time to outline the bowel later on the CT scan.
After the “uptake” time, the technologist will position you for the scan. The PET scanner is similar in appearance to a normal CT scanner; it takes around 15-25 minutes to complete the images. You are able to breathe normally, but must not move during this time.
If a diagnostic CT scan is scheduled, our radiographer will start this immediately after the PET scan. The CT procedure will be very similar to the PET scanning and may involve further injections of contrast material.
What are the risks and side effects?
PET/CT procedures are considered to be very safe and there have been no reported adverse reactions attributable to the use of 18FDG. Exposure to low doses of gamma radiation carries an extremely small theoretical risk of contributing to future cancer formation. With 18FDG the levels of radiation and theoretical risks are lower than typical CT scans. These factors will be taken into consideration by your referring doctor in the light of your medical history and be balanced against the benefits of performing the test. All radiation doses are reduced to a level as low as reasonably achievable.
The contrast media taken during the PET and CT scans (Methylcellulose) is an inert, indigestible liquid. Occasionally it may cause mild diarrhoea or digestive discomfort for a short time.
After your procedure:
Who will perform my PET and write the report?
At Lake Imaging all PET/CT scans are performed by registered Medical Imaging Technologists, and a PET-credentialed radiologist or physician will review your relevant medical history, and other imaging, before reporting your PET/CT scans.
Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.
What should I expect after my PET?
After the images are checked, we may ask you some further questions before leaving. There are generally no precautions to follow after your procedure.
Radiation from the injected isotope diminishes to a safe level by the end of the procedure, and you are free to resume normal activities immediately.
If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions. This will be explained to you by the staff at Lake Imaging.
How do I obtain my results?
If your results are required urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with your referring doctor or health care provider, Lake Imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination.