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How Does a PET Scan Machine Work?

You’ve probably heard about PET scans, but how does a PET scan machine work? These scans use a radiotracer to reveal organ function. It looks similar to an MRI or CT scan unit and contains multiple rings of detectors to record the energy released from the radiotracer when it passes through the body. The more radionuclide the tissue contains, the brighter the result will be.

This imaging technique works by injecting a radioactive substance, such as cadmium, into the patient. The PET scanner then measures the emissions to create two and three-dimensional images. A PET scan is completely painless. There’s no radiation in the PET scanner. The image produced by the scan is very detailed and may allow your physician to pinpoint specific organs or even the source of your symptoms.

Patients should dress appropriately. A hospital gown is usually appropriate. It’s important to avoid wearing any metal during the PET scan, as this can interfere with the quality of the images. Patients with diabetes should also make sure their blood sugar levels are in range. After completing the scan, they can go back to their normal clothes. If they are pregnant or breastfeeding, they should inform the facility in advance of these conditions. A sedative may be prescribed to make the scan less painful.

A PET scan involves radioactive tracer injections into the body. Patients are usually given an intravenous line to be injected, but it’s possible to stay in the procedure area for other reasons. While the injection is relatively painless, there is a slight chance of an allergic reaction to the radioactive material, which causes the patient to feel a chill and feel lightheaded. Patients should call their healthcare provider if any symptoms occur after the PET scan. The results of a PET scan are usually available to patients within 48 hours, and the images and reports will also show if the test was successful.

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