Ignorance is not bliss: Your preparatory guide before, during and after a PET CT Scan.Berlin Diagnostics
“Ignorance is bliss” – the famous proverb works well in mitigating unwanted situations in our fast-paced, stressful lives. However, this is far from recommended when it comes to accurate and timely medical information. Ignorance of symptoms and lack of correct information can cause people their lives and the pandemic has taught us that well. When faced with an unfamiliar life-threatening illness that requires specialised testing like a PET CT scan to diagnose it, a person’s initial reaction is panic, owing to the fear of how the test may be conducted and what it may reveal.
A PET CT scan (Positron emission tomography scan) is an imaging test used by doctors to identify an illness during its onset. PET scans are widely used to diagnose cancer, heart issues and brain disorders. Through a PET CT scan, doctors can also assess the intake of oxygen and sugar, the flow of blood, and the metabolism of a patient’s body. However, given that it is associated with such serious illnesses, several people have many fears and misconceptions about the PET CT scan.
Being asked to undergo a PET scan can be frightening and stressful, especially if you haven’t had one before. However, knowing how to prepare for and what to expect during a PET CT scan can ease your nerves and ensure the process goes off as smoothly as possible.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things one must be mindful of before, during, and after a PET CT scan.
Preparing before the PET CT scan
In most cases, a PET CT scan is used as a diagnostic tool so that you may have up to a day or more before the scheduled appointment time. Once the test is scheduled, your doctor or physician will give you a set of instructions to follow before the test.
A Blood Urea and Serum Creatinine blood (KFT/RFT) test is mandatory to understand your kidney functions before your IV contrast for PET scan imaging.
Exercise and physical activity
Vigorous physical activity, exercises or any activity that increases your heart rate should be avoided 24 to 48 hours before the test.
For a PET CT scan, one can book an appointment directly without any prescription for a routine full body checkup. But if the patient is suffering from any form of discomfort or pain in their body, then a doctor’s prescription recommending a PET CT scan for that specific body area is a must.
Diet and medication
If the patient has diabetes, they must talk to their doctor before making any changes in their diet or medication before the test. Patients can consume their thyroid/ diabetic medications before the test as per their prescription.
We at Berlin Diagnostics Center provide our patients with a diet plan based on their health concerns such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, / low blood pressure to avoid any dietary compromises and make it easy for them to follow PET scan diet instructions.
Food and water intake
Six hours before the PET scan scheduled appointment, you need to stop eating completely. It is ideal to book an early morning appointment so you can get your scan done on an empty stomach. However, you can drink water at any time leading up to the test. Drinking water is recommended as it makes the results of the scans clearer as well. You should also consult your regular doctor for changes in any medication during the 6 hours leading up to the PET scan.
What not to wear for PET Scan
Do not wear metal accessories such as jewellery, belts, bracelets, and chains, which may impact the scanning equipment. Patients are advised to remove these before the test, so leaving them at home altogether is better. However, medical devices such as pacemakers and hip implants do not affect the test results.
During the PET CT scan
Reach in time
It is best to reach the test centre well in time for the appointment to avoid any last-minute stress and anxiety.
Being injected with the tracer
Around an hour or 90 minutes before the test, you will be injected with the tracer. This feels like a normal injection and should not create too much discomfort for most patients. In some instances, the tracer may also be injected orally or through a drip.
Be watchful for allergic reactions
In some cases, a patient may have an allergic reaction to the tracer, in which case the doctor should be informed immediately. It may also cause some side effects, such as vomiting, headache, itching and flushing in some cases.
Relax while you wait for the scan to begin
Once the tracer is inside your body, you will need to wait for an hour or more for your body to absorb the tracer as that would enable clearer images to emerge from the scan.
At Berlin Diagnostics Center, we recommend our patients to carry something that helps them pass the time effectively – a book, music, puzzles are some of the activities that one can do while waiting for the tracer to be absorbed in the body. This will keep the patients engaged and relaxed while waiting for the scan. At this point, you will also be able to get all your doubts and queries answered by the medical professional on-site.
The scanning process
The scan may last anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes. You will be asked to lie flat on a narrow table that emerges out of the PET scan machine during the scan. It is best if the patient remains as still and calm as possible while they lay down to get an accurate reading.
While the procedure is painless and non-invasive, some patients may feel claustrophobic or anxious due to the enclosed space. You may also be asked by the on-site technologist to hold your breath for up to a few seconds at times during the scanning process.
The PET scanner emits whirring sounds as it circles your body to get the required images, so it may be best to be prepared and not startled at these sounds. Once the scan is complete and the technologist confirms he has all the images required, you will be brought out of the machine slowly and asked to change back into your clothes.
After the PET CT scan
After the PET scan, you can go back to your daily routine as quickly as possible unless instructed otherwise by your doctor. You should drink a lot of water as that would help flush the tracer out of your system – in most cases, they get flushed out within two days.
Once the scan results come back, which may take up to two working days, a medical specialist will assess the images and share the report with you, which will be explained by your doctor.
The fear of falling ill and undergoing medical treatment is innate in all human beings. But if one is aware of the medical guidelines that need to be followed, it makes the entire experience a pleasant and manageable one. Likewise, in the case of PET scans, if the patient is aware of the steps involved in the procedure once they are at the test centre, they can be more mentally prepared for the PET CT scan, thus ensuring a smoother and seamless experience.
Here at Berlin Diagnostics, our expert doctors and professionals will assist you to have a hassle-free PET CT scan procedure. So book an appointment for PET CT Scan in Ranchi and talk with our experts today!
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