Positron Emission Tomography (PET)


What is Positron Emission Tomography (PET)?

What should you do prior to the exam?

What should you do when you arrive?

What should you expect during the exam?

What should you do after the exam?

Test Results

What is Positron Emission Tomography (PET)?

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a diagnostic imaging modality used in determining the presence or severity of cancers, neurological conditions, infections and cardiovascular disease. It is considered particularly effective in identifying whether cancer is present or not, if it has spread, if it is responding to treatment and if a person is cancer free after treatment.

PET images demonstrate the chemistry of organs and other tissues such as tumors. A radiopharmaceutical is injected into the patient and its emissions are measured by a PET scanner. Because PET measures metabolism, it can be superior to other modalities, particularly in separating tumor from benign lesions and in differentiating malignant from non-malignant masses such as scar tissue formed from radiation therapy treatment.

PET is often used in conjunction with a CT scan through fusion to give a full three-dimensional view of an organ and the location of cancer within that organ. Our new scanner combines both PET and CT images that provide the important metabolic information from PET superimposed on the low dose non-contrast CT.

What should you do prior to the exam?

There are many circumstances to consider before scheduling a PET scan. Please refer to the information below or call 267-425-7090 if you have any questions prior to scheduling the scan.

Please contact the PET/CT Center before you schedule an exam if your child:


Any child that is unable to be calm and hold still for the duration of the procedure will be considered for sedation. Nursing staff will call the evening before the scheduled appointment to review sedation requirements.

Diabetic Patients

It is the responsibility of the referring physician to optimize your childs medications and diet to achieve the desired glucose level before the study. Patients are instructed to have a high protein, low carb diet for dinner the evening before the test. They should have nothing to eat or drink (NPO) after dinner and be scheduled for the first morning appointment.

General Preparations

No strenuous or excessive exercise 48 hours prior to scheduled appointment

Your child must have nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours prior to their scheduled appointment. ONLY water may be given. Diabetic patients see special instructions above.

Patients will be contacted by phone up to 48 hours prior to the scheduled appointment by either a PET technologist, Nursing staff or both, to review procedural instructions

Should you need to cancel or reschedule your child's appointment, please notify the PET/CT Center 24 hours prior to appointment, to allow the department ample time to cancel the delivery of the drug, which is very costly.

If your child has a noted allergy to radiographic contrast, additional preparations may be necessary.

Dress your child in warm and comfortable clothes. The scanning room is kept very cool but patients are required to be warm for better image quality.

Limit the use of jewelry and/or metal (zippers, snaps, hair accessories) in the area of scanning interest.

If you have copies of your childs previous imaging studies from another institution, please bring them for comparison. Also bring your childs medication history.

Note: Parents/Guardians will be allowed to accompany child into the exam room, other arrangements should be made for siblings.

Women who are pregnant or may be pregnant will be asked to leave the exam room during the procedure. Please make sure that there is someone else available to accompany the child during the exam, if needed.

What should you do when you arrive?

You must check in to Outpatient Registration, on the third floor of the Main Hospital, 1 hour prior to your scheduled appointment. This is where your registration process occurs.

The law requires that you bring a prescription from your doctors office stating the exam to be done and the reason for it.

If your insurance requires a referral, it must be presented at the time of registration. Proof of insurance will also need to be provided at this time.

Once the registration process is completed, the PET Department will be notified. A technologist or nurse will come out to the central registration area and bring you and your child to a room for IV placement if necessary.

What should you expect during the exam?

You and your child will be brought to the Sedation Center for IV placement. The nursing staff will assess the patient needs for sedation and urinary catheterization at this time. Once the IV is placed the patient will be brought to the PET/CT Center for injection.

Upon arrival at the PET/CT Center, the technologist and/or physician will give you and your child a thorough explanation of the test.

Blood sugar will be checked. Levels less than 60 mg/dl or above 150 mg/dl may require delay or cancellation of the exam.

Your child will be placed in the PET/CT Injection room to prepare for the radiopharmaceutical injection. Your child is required to relax, keeping movements to a minimum, in a quiet, warm environment to aid in proper absorption of the radiopharmaceutical. There is a waiting period after the injection is given that may last up to 1 hour, to allow the radiopharmaceutical to be absorbed and distributed throughout the body.

After the waiting period is over, your child will be asked to empty their bladder before they are taken to the scanning room to begin the PET/CT scan. The scan may take up to 1 hour, during which your child will need to lie still.

Child Life Specialists are available to answer questions you might have about how to prepare and support your child during the procedure. A child life specialist can also be present at the time of your child's appointment to explain the procedure in developmentally appropriate ways using well established preparation materials. The specialist can also be available to help implement distraction techniques to help your child better cope with the stress of the hospital experience. Please call 215-590-2001 or click the link above for more information.

What should you do after the exam?

Please keep your child well hydrated and have them urinate frequently for a few hours after the test. Sedated patients will be taken back to the Sedation Center for recovery.

If your child received sedation, follow any instructions given by the sedation nurses upon completion of this procedure.

Test Results

The images from your childs exam are interpreted on the same day and a report sent to your physicians office.

If your physician has any questions regarding the report, he/she may call 215-590-2584.

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