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what to expect at a PET scan

fandaj
Posts: 83
Joined: Apr 2003

My oncologist has recommended a PET scan as part of my follow-up tests. I just had a chest x-ray and a colonoscopy and they were good, but I have never had a PET scan. What can I expect?? Thanks, Arlene

alharkabus's picture
alharkabus
Posts: 9
Joined: Oct 2005

It's pretty simple, though a bit time consuming. You get an infusion of a radioactive solution, then you get about 30-45 minutes to let that circulate through your system. Then essentially you get what I think of as a longer version of a cAT scan, in a CAT scan-type machine.

fandaj
Posts: 83
Joined: Apr 2003

It's always better to hear from someone who has "been there". Thanks, Arlene

Moesimo's picture
Moesimo
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

Ask your doc if it is a combined CT and pet scan.

It is a glucose solution that is injected. And like the other poster said it is long. But, other than the injection, it is not painful.

moe

Betsydoglover's picture
Betsydoglover
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Pet's a piece of cake. You fast - they inject you with a very small amount of radioactive glucose. You relax for about 45 minutes and then lie in the scanner - scan itself takes about 45 minutes also. No long breath holding like an MRI or anything. No claustrophobic sensations. It's really easy.

If you are going for a PET/CT then you'll have to go for CT scan too. That's less pleasant in that you have to drink a chalky liquid or a gatorade with the contrast in it, wait and then unfortunately (for my small veins anyway) the cat scan contrast (if you have it) injected IV needs a fairly large needle and to me finding the vein is the worst part of the whole thing.

Good luck. I have a scan on the 16th so wish me luck too!

Betsy

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I agree with BetsyDL that finding a good vein is the worse part (if you are having that contrast). The rest is fine, in my experience -- almost relaxing. I always ask for an extra blanket, in case I get cold.....Good luck with it.

glimmerofhope
Posts: 53
Joined: Oct 2005

The other replies have pretty well summed it up. I think you are doing the right thing by taking the PET test that is approx. 90% accurate versus a CAT scan that is only approx. 40% accurate and shows all kinds of "indications" that aren't cancer.

Those estimates have proved very accurate for me... I've had probably 16 CAT scans and 2 PET scans and PETS are accurate.

The docs love CAT scan. When in doubt, order a CAT scan... the worst that will happen is expose the patient to a lot of unnecessary magnetic fields and the hospital makes about $12,000 a pop.

I don't like getting the PET scans either, but I feel the risk is worth the reward for them.

ONE further word of caution...Siemens and GE I believe make PET scan machines that are very different. I was scheduled to take a PET scan at Duke hospital a while back.

I was taking opium based pain killers that made me itch. The technicians began strapping my arms down by my side and told me that I wouldn't be able to move for approx. 45 minutes while they moved me head first into the claustrophobic coffin-like contraption.

While this procedure would probably work wonders in getting Al-Queda detainees to talk... I balked!

I told them there was no way I was going to be able to do that... They moved me to another PET machine by a different manufacturer that allowed more free movement that was OK.

chynabear's picture
chynabear
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

Word of advice, talk with your insurance before the PET to make sure all of your ducks are in a row and everything is going to be covered before the scan.

I had a PET and a CT in Nov. 2004. Everything was fine. I changed doctors and as part of my "follow up" both of my docs recommended a PET/CT every three months. Well, somewhere there was a break in the line of communication. Long story short, the insurance didn't ask for any documentations. The PET/CT didn't send any. I have the July scan. Three days before my Oct scan, I received a denial letter from insurance because they didn't get any documentation stating why the scan was a "medical necessitiy" and that the PET was considered "investagority and exploratory" for colon cancer. Needless to say, I finally decided to have my Cat Scanned yesterday and not the PET/CT because the other incident is still under "medical review." Serious PITA. To me, it's a no brainer. This is the standard follow-up regimen for colon cancer in the US, Or so my onc says (and both Onc's have prescribed this course of action).

Anyway, save yourself some serious stress and just talk to your insurance.

Patricia

Betsydoglover's picture
Betsydoglover
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Patricia - I had the same issue. Insurance paid the CT part but denied the PET part pending statement of medical necessity. It took me forever to get the Imaging place to send the documentation, but once they did, insurance paid it with no problem. Same thing happened the second time. When I have my third next Friday I am going to remind the Imaging center to include a statement of necessity when they submit to the insurance company.

My oncologist says colon cancer is a standard indication for PET/CT. And while all this was going on I even found documents online from my own insurance company that stated that. So mostly it all turned out to be just a paperwork nightmare - one I figure will repeat next week! Sometimes I hate insurance companies!

Betsy

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