PET Scan- Its Uses, Preparation and Side Effects

Positron emission tomography scan is a diagnostic tool that can help detect diseases in their early stages such as for the signs of cancer, heart diseases or any brain conditions. PET scan involves the use of an injectable radioactive dye. The dye is injected into your veins of arm or hand.. The dye is absorbed by your cells which represent a more clear image.

What is the Difference Between Pet Scan and CT Scan or Mri Scan?

CT stands for computed tomography, MRI means magnetic resonance imagining, and PET- positron emission tomography. The CT scan uses x-rays primarily for image production, MRI uses magnets and radio waves whereas the PET scan primarily uses radioactive tracer to make the pictures of the inside of the body.

Unlike other 2 tests, PET scan can detect minor cellular changes in the body organs at a comparatively early stage. Sometimes a hybrid technique i.e. PET-CT is used for better accuracy and precise diagnosis. PET-MRI hybrid techniques are also used  that creates extremely high contrast images of inside organs, mostly the soft tissues like brain, head and neck, liver etc.

Uses of the Pet Scan

Your doctor might suggest you for getting a PET scan to check signs for-

  • A cancer or tumour- cancer of breasts, lungs , thyroid or any other body part can be detected by a PET Scan
  • Any diseases of heart including- coronary artery disease or signs of other conditions like heart attack
  • Some brain disorders like brain tumours, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or epilepsy and others can be detected.
  • It can be used to find evidences for cancer recurrence
  • The spread and extent of cancer can be visualised
  • Response and effects of medications are effectively monitored by this scan.

PET scan is a little insufficient in revealing non cancerous lesion, but these can be evaluated by the hybrid techniques like PET-CT or PET-MRI scans

Uses of hybrid techniques include diagnosis in various parts like

  • Brain
  • Thyroid
  • Lungs
  • Colorectal
  • Breasts
  • Prostate
  • Lymphatic system
  • Cervical
  • Head nd neck
  • Pancreatic
  • Oesophageal
  • Skin etc.

How to Prepare for a Pet Scan?

  • Because the radioactive tracer is being used, you should not eat anything 4-6 hours prior to the scan. Although you can drink clear fluids
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should inform your doctor.
  • If you are claustrophobic,you should tell your doctor beforehand, you might be given sedative medications before the test.
  • If you are on medications, it should be intimated beforehand.
  • Avoid any strenuous exercise a couple days before the scan.
  • If you have had allergy to scan dye or are allergic to other known things, you should tell your doctor.

What to Do After the Scan and Its Possible Risks?

  • You should drink plenty of water after the scan to help flush out the radioactive dye at a faster rate.
  • You should avoid breastfeeding your baby for at least 1-2 meals so as to prevent your baby from ingesting the radioactive dye that might be present in your breast milk.
  • You should avoid making close contact with children and pregnant ladies as they are more susceptible to radiation.
  • You will be told about any medication routine change if you have to make .
  • The hybrid scan PET-Ct scan involves additional radiations exposure, which might cause problems in future although the risk is very low


PET scan is a more sensitive test when it comes to diagnosing case of cancer which is a dangerous disease, it becomes necessary to detect it at its earliest, PET scan is capable of detecting any small cellular changes, thereby aiding in the diagnosis.with the recent hybrid techniques, the diagnostic image quality  has improved even more. Book PET scan today at the best diagnostic centre to get an accurate and precise diagnosis

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