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PET scan

The term “PET” means “positron emission tomography”.
It is a scan examination, using cameras that detect fixing sites for a radioactive tracer injected intravenously into the body. The tracer contains sugar, which fixes itself to tumour cells or to inflamed cells.
Cancer cells are known to consume more glucose than normal cells.
The PET Scan is carried out in addition to the X-ray, regular scan and MRN, but does not replace them.
On the contrary, it reveals tumours that other examinations may miss; it allows the progress of a cancer to be monitored during treatment, and helps detect possible relapses.


Nil by mouth for at least 6 hours

If the examination is in the morning, nil after midnight
If the examination is in the afternoon, light breakfast before 0700 and then nil
You may however drink water or black coffee and take your medicines (unless the doctor specifies otherwise).


Lasts for 2-3 hours, performed in the nuclear medicine department (-2 V7)

Stages in the examination

To carry out the examination, a drip is placed in your elbow vein to administer the tracer. Your blood sugar level will be systematically monitored to ensure that the examination is proceeding properly.
You must then remain sitting calmly in the injection chair, waiting for the radiotracer to spread, for at least 1½ hours.
During this period, you will be given water to drink to guarantee good hydration levels and proper elimination of any tracer not captured.
The examination itself normally lasts 30 minutes.
During the examination, patients will be asked to lie on their backs with their head in a rigid support. Complete immobility is essential for the examination to proceed properly.

Risks and problems

The tracer administered (a fluorine-marked sugar called FDG) is slightly radioactive and does not pose a risk to you. It has been used for over 15 years in Belgium and administered to tens of thousands of patients without any side effects being recorded. There is no fear of allergic reactions with this product. Although the radioactive life span of the product is very short, we advise you not to have close contact with pregnant women or young children on the date of the examination.
You will be asked to drink plenty of water, to allow any tracer not captured can pass out through urine.


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