Types of PET/CT scans

A variety of clinical PET/CT scans are performed in the PET/CT department at our Garran practice, including:

Name of test Purpose of test
Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET/CT The vast majority of scans are done with this sugar-like substance. As tumours use sugars to grow, it is useful for imaging a wide range of different tumours but can also be useful for imaging inflammation, infection and brain function.
DOTA-TATE (GaTate) and DOTA-NOC PET/CT Mainly used to image neuroendocrine tumours, phaeochromycytoma, paraganglioma or neuroblastoma.
Ga-68 prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET/CT Imaging of prostate cancer.

Preparing for a PET/CT scan

For a FDG PET/CT scan, you will need to fast (have no food) for six hours before your scan, as the concentration of the radioactive sugar in tumour is affected by the amount of natural sugar in the blood.

This is particularly important for diabetic patients. For this reason, please contact the PET department at the Brindabella Specialist Centre in advance of your appointment if you are a diabetic and likely to have a blood sugar level of greater than 10 mmol/L-1.

You should drink at least 500ml of plain water (nothing else) in the couple of hours before your appointment.  You may be told not to do any strenuous exercise for 24 hours before the scan. Unless you are told otherwise, you should carry on taking any medicines prescribed for you by your doctor.

Depending on the area being tested, some other preparations may be required. A personalised instruction sheet will be sent to you with exact preparation instructions.

On the day

Where to go

Brindabella Specialist Centre
5 Dann Close
GARRAN ACT

Having your PET/CT scan

On arrival you may be asked to change into a gown. You will also need to remove all jewellery and any other metallic objects.  A plastic needle (cannula) will be inserted into one of the veins in the back of your hand or arm.

You will then receive an injection of a radioactive chemical that is taken up in most cancerous tumours. For a FDG PET/CT scan, you will need to lie down and rest for a minimum of one hour while the radioactive sugar circulates around your body. Sugar naturally goes to muscles that are moving, so resting can prevent these muscles from taking up the radioactive sugar and hiding the view of any tumour.

After this resting period, you will be moved to the scanning room, where pictures will be taken. This will take up to 30 minutes depending on the area required to be scanned. During this a CT contrast injection may be given to further enhance structures of the scan.

What to bring to your PET/CT scan appointment

Please bring any films or CDs of prior imaging studies, for example CT or MRI scans, that may have been performed elsewhere.

The scan will take around two hours in total and you are encouraged to bring your own music device.

After your PET/CT scan

A PET scan is a very safe and routine procedure. Millions of PET scans have been done around the world without complication. The radiation dose for this procedure is small. You will not need to distance or isolate yourself from others; by the end of the day all the radiation will be out of your body.