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Did You Know?

Wake Radiology is committed to low-dose.

low-dose-imagingOur commitment to low-dose imaging and to eliminating unnecessary or duplicate exams helps Wake Radiology improve patient outcomes and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.

Learn more about our low-dose commitment

Badges of Honor

Wake Radiology is proud to have received the highest accreditations possible from the American College of Radiology (ACR).

Learn more about our accreditations!

PET-CT Exams

Wake Radiologist during a PET-CT scan with one our Wake Radiologist patients.

Wake Radiologist during a PET-CT scan with one our Wake Radiologist patients.

Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging.


Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease and certain other abnormalities within the body.

Nuclear medicine or radionuclide imaging procedures are noninvasive and usually painless medical tests that help physicians diagnose medical conditions. These imaging scans use radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers.
PETGuide_Image.jpgDepending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the radiotracer is either injected into a vein, swallowed or inhaled as a gas and eventually accumulates in the organ or area of your body being examined, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. This energy is detected by a device called a gamma camera, a (positron emission tomography) PET scanner and/or probe. These devices work together with a computer to measure the amount of radiotracer absorbed by your body and to produce special pictures offering details on both the structure and function of organs and tissues.
At Wake Radiology, nuclear medicine images can be superimposed with computed tomography (CT) to produce special views, a practice known as image fusion or co-registration. These views allow the information from two different studies to be correlated and interpreted on one image, leading to more precise information and accurate diagnoses. In addition, manufacturers are now making single photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT-CT) and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET-CT) units that are able to perform both imaging studies at the same time. PET-wPatientTech2.jpg A PET scan measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism, to help doctors evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning. CT imaging uses special X-ray equipment, and in some cases a contrast material, to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These images can then be interpreted by a radiologist on a computer monitor as printed images. CT imaging provides excellent anatomic information.

How do I prepare for my PET-CT scan?

  • Do not have anything by mouth other than water and medications 6 hours before your test. This includes gum, mints, sodas, etc.
  • It is important to drink 3 to 4 eight-ounce glasses of water before the exam.
  • Void as often as needed. This can be done over the course of a couple of hours if desired.
  • No strenuous exercise for 24 hours before the exam (going to the gym, jogging, aerobics, weight-lifting, etc.).
  • Please be on time and check in at the arrival time given to you
  • Your dose has been ordered in advance and is formulated specifically for you based on your scheduled appointment time.
  • Wear comfortable warm clothing to the appointment that does not contain metal, if possible (zippers, snaps, etc.). Otherwise, a gown or scrubs will be provided for you.
  • Bring any prior PET or CT scans and reports with you (or have your doctor’s office send them to us) if they were performed at a facility other than Wake Radiology. These are needed by the radiologist for a thorough comparison and interpretation of your exam.

Diabetic Patients and PET-CT

Diabetic patients should take medications as prescribed to ensure their blood sugar is below 200 mg/dl. The test cannot be performed if your blood sugar is above 200 mg/dl. If you are insulin dependent, please do not take insulin within 2 hours of your appointment time. You may take insulin as needed after the scan is completed. Oral diabetic medications may be taken prior to the scan.

Rescheduling or canceling your PET·CT

If you’re unable to make your PET·CT appointment, please contact our office at 919-854-2190 by 4:00pm the day before your exam, so we can cancel the dose that has been ordered specifically for you.

What should I expect on the day of my PET·CT scan?

  1. Upon arrival, you will be given a tasteless oral contrast mixed with natural spring water to drink.
  2. Next, you will receive a small injection of radioactive tracer (FDG) through an IV that will be started in your arm. This injection will not make you feel any different, and you cannot be allergic to it.
  3. After the injection, you will rest in a quiet room for about one hour. The rooms are furnished with comfortable recliners, warm blankets, and cable TV. You may bring a book or magazine to read or just rest quietly.
  4. It is important to avoid movement, talking, chewing gum, using electronic devices such as cell phones, smart phones (no texting or wrist movement) or PDAs or any physical activity during this hour.
  5. After the hour, you will move to the PET·CT scan room where we will start the imaging, which will take approximately 20-25 minutes.
  6. Additionally, you may receive a CT contrast administered through your existing IV, depending on how your physician ordered the exam. We will make you aware if you are to receive this second dose of contrast.

The entire appointment will take approximately 2 hours. A radiologist will interpret the images from your scan, and a detailed report will be sent to your doctor. Above all, Wake Radiology’s goal is to make this exam as comfortable and stress-free as possible for you. If you have any questions about this information or about your PET·CT scan, please don’t hesitate to call our office at 919-854-2190. For directions to our Cary office, please click here.

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