This information tells you about having a PET-CT scan with us (following referral by your doctor) and aims to answer any questions you might have. On this page we aim to provide you with important information about the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
Please read this information carefully and if there are any questions or concerns then contact us on 01923 844092.
A PET-CT scan is a combination of two types of scanning technique in which a small amount of radioactive tracer (a type of fluid) is injected into a vein. This provides information about the anatomy (CT) and function (PET) of your internal organs. The scan tells doctors about the presence, location and severity of cancers. It can also be used for other conditions such as infection or inflammation and conditions that affect the brain. We are able to provide important information to help your doctor plan an appropriate treatment for you.
The PET-CT scanner is a large, quiet machine with a ring-like structure (see picture). You will need to be able to lie on your back on the scanning couch, which will move into the ring.
The radioactive tracer has no documented side effects. The scan involves exposure to radiation in the form of gamma and X-rays. We ensure that the radiation dose you receive is both appropriate to address the clinical question being asked, and is as low as is achievable. A typical PET-CT scan radiation dose is equivalent to around 5 years of average background radiation which we all receive in the UK. The radiation dose for a PSMA PET-CT scan is typically about one quarter lower than that of other types of PET-CT scan.
The doctor who has referred you to us has judged that the risk of the radiation dose is outweighed by the potential benefits of the scan.
Please inform us if the answer to any of the following is yes:
Unfortunately we’re unable to give sedatives or painkillers. If you do need something to calm your nerves or reduce pain, please speak to your doctor in advance and follow their advice closely. If you’ve taken a sedative, you must bring someone with you to your appointment.
IMPORTANT: If you’re having an FDG PET-CT body or brain scan, don’t eat for 6 hours before your scan (this includes chewing gum, sweets or cough drops), and don’t drink anything other than plain water during this period. If you’re having a choline PET-CT scan or PSMA PET-CT scan, you can eat as normal and don’t have to stick to plain water. Your appointment letter tells you what kind of scan you’re having.
Please bring a dressing gown or warm, loose, metal-free clothing. You can take your usual medicines unless otherwise instructed. If in doubt, please contact us, especially if you are diabetic.
Avoid bringing valuables along to your appointment, as we don't have secure space to store them for you.
Please arrive at the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre reception on time for your appointment because the radioactive tracer that we inject is ordered specifically for you and only works for a short time. If you are late we may not be able to proceed with your scan. If you are unable to attend or are going to be delayed, please telephone us at the earliest opportunity on 01923 844705.
Sometimes, due to the complexity of both the scanner and the radioactive tracer that is injected, we can experience unforeseen technical difficulties which could mean we’re unable to scan you on the day. If this happens, we may need to cancel your appointment at short notice but we will rebook you for the first available convenient date.
If you’re having a scan of your brain, your injection and scan will take place in a darkened room.
You can bring a relative, friend or carer but they will have to wait in the waiting room unless you need their help with translation or have any special requirements.
Please do not bring children or pregnant friends/relatives with you or we may be unable to scan you.
A member of staff will accompany you to a private room, ask you about your medical history and explain what will happen.
If awaiting transport to collect you, please feel free to bring something along to eat and drink.
One of our PET-CT specialists will analyse your scan. We will then send your report back to the doctor who referred you for your scan.
If you do not have another outpatient appointment arranged and you do not hear anything about the results within 3 weeks, we suggest that you telephone the referring doctor’s secretary for advice.
We strive to provide our patients with world-class scanning facilities, clinical excellence and opportunities to take part in innovative health research studies.
We welcome your feedback. Please complete one of our comments cards during your visit, which will help us improve our service.