What Is Involved in PET Scan Preparation?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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PET scan preparation guidelines may vary slightly, so it is best to consult the medical staff for any individualized rules or regulations. Generally speaking, there should be nothing to eat or drink at for at least six hours prior to the procedure. There may be specific dietary restrictions or guidelines beginning a day or two before the procedure. Comfortable, warm clothing should be worn, although anything containing metal should be avoided. All necessary paperwork should be turned in as recommended by the medical staff, and any necessary test results, such as x-rays, should be brought to the appointment.

Most doctors recommend nothing to eat or drink, except plain water, for at least six hours before the PET scan procedure. Several glasses of water should be consumed prior to the procedure in order to ensure proper hydration and more accurate results. All products containing caffeine should be eliminated from the diet at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled PET scan. Diabetic patients may have slightly different eating guidelines during PET scan preparation. For example, a couple of crackers may be allowed, along with any necessary medication, before the procedure is performed.


The last meal that is consumed during PET scan preparation should typically be low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Bacon, eggs, and sausage are examples of an appropriate breakfast. Dinner may consist of foods such as steak, fish, or chicken. Vegetables that are relatively low in carbohydrates include broccoli, mushrooms, and asparagus. Foods that should be avoided include rice, bread, and potatoes.

The procedure room can be quite cool, so warm, comfortable clothing should be worn during PET scan preparation. Any clothing items that contain metal, such as belt buckles or underwire bras, should be avoided. In most cases, all jewelry should be left at home, although some doctors may occasionally make exceptions for wedding bands.

The medical staff will instruct the patient concerning all paperwork that should be gathered or completed during the process of PET scan preparation. All insurance cards, as well as a list of medications currently being taken, should be brought to the appointment. If applicable, any x-rays or other test results should be given to the medical staff prior to the procedure.

Just before the scan, a small catheter known as an IV will be inserted into a vein and a small amount of glucose will be injected into the bloodstream. The patient will then wait for 30 minutes to an hour before the scan begins. The scan itself generally takes about one hour.


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