What is a PET/CT Scan?
Your doctor has suggested you have a PET/CT scan of your heart as part of the evaluation at National Jewish Health. A PET scan is a shortened name for positron emission tomography. A PET scan views cellular changes in the body. A CT scan or CAT scan is a shortened name of computerized tomography. A CT scan takes pictures of the inside of the body. The pictures are more detailed than a typical x-ray. The PET/CT scan your doctor recommended will show if there is any inflammation. This can help determine if sarcoidosis has affected your heart. Your doctor will use this information to determine the best treatment for you.
How do you get ready for the test?
The accuracy of this test is dependent upon you following a very strict diet for at least 24 hours. This diet must begin first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up, the day prior to your scan. The only foods allowed are: Plain Meats, Eggs and Raw or Salted Nuts.
Plain meats: Grill or cook your own beef, chicken or fish. Use only butter or oil to cook meat. Do not eat at a restaurant or go to a deli to get these meats. They must contain no added spices, no sugar, no breading etc. No processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, deli meats, bologna, flavored turkey or chicken, roast beef or anything that has to be sliced from a meat case. These can have added sugar or ingredients that can cause your test to be non-diagnostic (salt and pepper are permissible on meat).
Eggs: Cook eggs in butter or oil only. Salt and Pepper are permissible on eggs.
Raw or Salted Nuts: No flavored nuts, such as smoked almonds, honey roasted peanuts, etc. Buy raw nuts from the bulk bins at a natural food store or eat Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts. If it has a flavor, don’t eat it.
Beverages: Drink plain water, plain black or green tea or black coffee only. Add nothing to beverages. Do not drink water that has any type of flavoring. No added sweeteners. No sugar free sweeteners.
No over the counter medications: Items such as Tums, Cough Syrups, cough drops, etc. contain sugar and must be avoided.
No gum, candy, mints, etc.
You must be fasting 12 hours prior to the scan. Only plain water is permissible after 7 pm the night before the test. Prescription medications may be taken. If you take medication for diabetes, you must speak with a member of the PET/CT department.
What is done during the PET/CT Scan?
This test consists of two separate images of your heart. You will begin the day in the Cardiology Department located in the basement of the Smith building. Go to Cardiology as soon as you have checked in at the main admissions desk.
In Cardiology, a technologist will start an IV into a vein in your arm and inject a small amount of a radiotracer. This tracer evaluates the blood flow to your heart. The tracer needs to circulate for about 40 minutes. Afterward the technologist will position you on a camera that will take images of your heart. This scan is about 10 minutes long.
When this scan is complete you will be escorted to the PET/CT department. Here, a technologist will give you a second injection of a radiotracer. This tracer will evaluate for inflammatory cells in your heart. This tracer needs to circulate in your system for about 60 minutes. During this time you will be in a private waiting room. You are to relax during this period. No reading, phone, or stimuli is allowed during this time. After about 60 minutes you will be moved to the PET/CT scanner. We will perform 1 or 2 scans depending on individual circumstances. These scans take about 10 minutes each.
The Nuclear Cardiology and PET/CT scans are easy to complete and do not cause pain. The test is lengthy, but simple.
Let the technologist know if you are pregnant or nursing.
What should you do after the test?
You can resume normal activities after the PET/CT scan.
How long will the PET/CT Scan take?
The procedure takes about 3 hours.