Preparing for your PET/CT

Overview of PET/CT

The following video explains the basics of your scan. More detail can be found below.

Before Your PET/CT

PET/CT procedures generally are covered by insurance plans, but you or your physician may be required to obtain authorization from your insurance provider prior to your exam.

You should call Fast Track Admissions prior to your exam date to pre-register. You may call up to 30 days in advance.

  • For exams scheduled at Emory University Hospital, call 404-686-5270 or 1-800-640-9293 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • For exams scheduled at Emory University Hospital Midtown, call 404-686-1573 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Fast Track Admissions may also be required for exams scheduled at The Emory Clinic. Please call 404-778-XRAY or ask your scheduler at the time you make your appointment.

Leading Up to Your Exam

  • Do not eat or drink liquids other than water six hours prior to your scan. Take any medications with water only.
  • If you are diabetic, please call 404-712-4453 prior to your appointment for special instructions. If you are diabetic and on an insulin pump, click here.
  • If you are breastfeeding at the time of your procedure, it may be prudent to pre-pump milk for use until the tracer is safely out of your body (12 hours). Please discuss this with your ordering physician as well as our staff beforehand to receive specific instructions (download PDF).
  • If available, bring any previous X-ray, CT, PET and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) results and images with you to our facility.
  • Metal objects, such as jewelry and hairpins, may interfere with the CT scan and should be left at home.
  • The actual scan generally takes about one hour to complete, but you should expect to be at our facility for two to three hours.

Patients on Insulin Pump: For 6 hours prior to the PET scan, the pump should remain on usual basal mode, and you should be fasting and avoid insulin bolus.  When you arrive for imaging, your blood glucose will be checked.  If your glucose is above 200mg/dl, the exam may need to be rescheduled. After imaging is complete you may readjust the insulin pump to your usual settings.

The Day of Your PET/CT Scan

Plan to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment. Once at our facility, we will ask you about:

  • Your medical history
  • Any medications you take
  • Any medication allergies you have
  • Whether you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant (if you are unsure if you are pregnant, we may give you a pregnancy test)

We will ask you to remove any metal-containing items, such as jewelry (including earrings and body piercings), hairpins, hearing aids, glasses, wigs with metal clips and some nonpermanent dentures. We will also ask you to remove all objects from your pockets.

The PET/CT Procedure

  • To begin the procedure, we will inject a small amount of radioactive tracer into the bloodstream. We may also ask you to drink a small amount of oral contrast to aid in the CT portion of the scan.
  • Following the injection, we will ask you to rest quietly and avoid talking for approximately one hour while the tracer is distributed throughout your body.
  • We then will ask you to lie still on a table that passes slowly through the scanner.
  • When the exam is complete, we will take you out of the scanner. Occasionally, we may require additional images.

After your PET/CT

Your scan will be reviewed by a physician who will create a report for your doctor.

Your doctor will receive the results, usually within one day. Any time after this you can discuss the results or get a copy of your scan and results.