A PET/CT scan is a test used to detect cancer and neurological diseases. Special pictures are taken after a medicine is injected into a vein. The medicine is called a radiopharmaceutical (a tiny amount of a radioactive liquid). The pictures show the medicine in the body.
Before the Scan
Before coming to the hospital, read this explanation and explain to your child what will happen during the test. For young children, use simple words and explain only shortly before the test.
Children 5 years and under may require sedation for their procedure. If sedation is necessary, a nurse or doctor will explain it to you. You will be given certain eating and drinking restrictions necessary to complete the exam. The day of the exam, a parent or guardian needs to be present to sign informed consent for sedation.
If your child is an infant, it is helpful to bring along a bottle of formula or juice with you for after the test. It is also recommended that you bring a pacifier, blanket or special toy to help calm your baby.
For older children, it is helpful to bring a book, toy or DVD to play with while waiting. It is helpful to have another caregiver for your child's siblings. For young children or babies, it is a good idea to bring a stroller.
There is special preparation for this test and a nurse will call you the day before with instructions.
Do not allow your child to eat or drink anything except water for six hours before the exam because it could interfere with the results; don’t even allow chewing gum. But do allow your child to drink plenty of water. If your child takes medications, allow them to drink only water to swallow them.
If your child is a diabetic, let us know ahead of time so we can work with your physician to determine the safest possible way to prepare for the exam. You may contact us at 312.227.4461.
Dress your child in comfortable clothing. Avoid metal snaps and zippers because they can interfere with the pictures. When necessary, we will put a hospital gown on your child after you arrive.
Keep your child from strenuous physical exercise 24 hours prior to exam.
During the Procedure
A technologist or nurse will place a small needle called an IV into a vein in your child's hand or foot. The needle hurts for just a moment. When the needle is in, the medicine is injected into a vein. Then, they will lie in a dark, quiet room for one hour.
After an hour, pictures will be taken. Your child will need to lie still on a soft table while a special camera is used to take pictures of them. Your child may need a safety belt to help them lie still. If sedation medicine is necessary, a nurse or doctor will explain it to you. It will take at least one hour to take all of the pictures. During this time, the camera will not hurt or touch your child.
After the Scan
The child eliminates the medicine from his body by urinating. Your child should drink plenty of fluids and urinate often to help clear it from their body. It should be completely out of their body within 24 hours.
As always, you and your child should wash your hands after they urinate or when handling urine-soaked diapers or sheets.
After the test, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. If your child had sedation medicine, they will be monitored by a nurse in the recovery room until they wake. This amount of time is often unpredictable depending on the amount of sedation medicine given. It is common for children to sleep two hours after the medicine is given.
Results of the test will be available to your child's doctor within 24 hours.
E-mail Lorraine Chisari, Manager, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine and PET/CT, or call 312.227.3482 with any questions or concerns.