CDI Miami | Tuesday August 25, 2015

PET Scans are safe.

Your doctor might recommend that you undergo a positron emission tomography (PET) scan if he or she suspects that you may have certain medical conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, or a brain disorder like Alzheimer’s disease. A PET scan is a nuclear medicine exam, which means that it uses a radiopharmaceutical to allow healthcare providers to examine the metabolism of organs and tissues. If you’ve been asked to undergo a PET scan in Miami, you may have some concerns about potential health risks. However, you can rest assured that PET scans have an excellent safety record.

Radiopharmaceuticals are radioactive drugs. Some people may be concerned around introducing radioactive material to their bodies. However, the use of radiopharmaceuticals is very safe. In a procedure, a radiology technologist performing a PET scan will use fluorodeoxsyglucose (FDG). This is a form of glucose, or sugar, which is radioactive. The healthcare provider injects a very small amount of this substance into the patient’s bloodstream. Tumors absorb glucose more quickly than other tissues, making them easy to identify by the physician.

Although FDG is a radioactive substance, it poses little risk to your health. Its half-life is about 110 minutes, which means that it breaks down very quickly. Additionally, the kidneys metabolize the substance quickly, making radiation exposure minimal. The potential benefits of the exam are far greater than the minimal radiation exposure necessary for the treatment.

There are no known side-effects of PET scans. The only pain you could experience is from the pinprick when the radiopharmaceutical is injected. Fasting is important for the exam’s success, so if you have Diabetes, it is important to inform the technologist. It also important to inform your technician if you know or think you may be pregnant.