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What do you do before a PET scan procedure?

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During the 24 hours before a PET scan, patients should avoid strenuous activities, such as running, weight lifting and yoga, states Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Patients start a low-carbohydrate diet 12 hour prior to the procedure and eat nothing during the final six hours prior to the procedure, according to NorthShore University HealthSystem.

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Low-carbohydrate foods include meat, hard cheese, tofu, eggs and vegetables, NorthShore University HealthSystem explains. Starchy foods to avoid prior to a PET scan include cereal, pasta, milk, bread and sugars. Patients are permitted to drink water at any time before the PET scan, but not candy, gum or lozenges, advises Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Nursing mothers should not breastfeed during the 24 hours following the injection of the PET scan's radioactive tracer drug, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute warns. In preparation, women should pump and store milk before the tracer is introduced.

Patients should discuss important information with their doctors prior to the PET scan. They should provide details about any severe allergic reactions, advises Mayo Clinic. Doctors should be told if patients have been recently ill, have on-going medical conditions or are claustrophobic. Any medications, vitamins or herbal supplements a patient is taking should be identified. It is essential that pregnant women, or women who suspect they are pregnant, share that information with their doctors. Typically, pregnant women are not given PET scans, states Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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