What are the prerequisites for having a PET scan done?

Specialist referral for patients meeting specified criteria is required for the cost of the scan to be covered by Medicare funding in Australia.

What are the absolute contraindications for a PET scan?

This study may not be suitable for pregnant women. The benefit versus risk should be discussed with the nuclear medicine specialist.

Women who are breastfeeding and people who are the primary or sole carer for small children may need to make special preparations after the test to stop breastfeeding for a short time and to avoid close contact with young children due to the small amount of radioactivity released for a while after the test. Patients should discuss this with their referring doctor or the nuclear medicine practice where they will have the test for details. See Nuclear Medicine for further information about the precautions to take with nuclear medicine studies for breastfeeding patients and those in close contact with children.

What are the relative contraindications for a PET scan?

  • Recent chemotherapy or radiotherapy can make interpretation difficult.
  • Very obese people may not fit into the opening of a PET-CT scanner.

What are the adverse effects of a PET scan?

The PET or PET-CT scan results in a small amount of radiation exposure, typically equivalent to a CT scan. Allergic reactions to the radioactive tracer are extremely rare.

Are there alternative imaging tests, interventions or surgical procedures to a PET scan?

Functional imaging with PET may detect early onset of disease or assess response to therapies earlier than conventional imaging such as CT scanning, X-rays or ultrasound.

Dr Michael Hofman
Dr Dee Nandurkar

Page last modified on 17/10/2016.

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