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What should you do to prepare for a PET scan?

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Avoid vigorous exercise in the days prior to receiving a PET scan, recommends Mayo Clinic. Patients must also fast for a few hours prior to the procedure.

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Patients need to let doctors know about any medications, herbal supplements or vitamins they are taking, notes Mayo Clinic. They should also disclose whether they are pregnant, claustrophobic, suffer from any medical conditions or have ever had a severe allergic reaction to anything.

A positron emission tomography is used to detect certain cancers, heart conditions and brain disorders, according to Mayo Clinic. Patients should expect to receive a radioactive drug, taken orally or injected into the body, before the scan. The radioactive drug allows physicians to view the activities of the patient's tissues and organs. It is absorbed into the tissues and organs depending on the person's metabolism rate.

Cancerous cells absorb the drug quickly and are bright when viewed during a PET scan. However, not all cancers are detectable by a PET scan, and all results must be interpreted by a professional to avoid inaccurate diagnoses, states Mayo Clinic. Physicians looking for various heart conditions use the radioactive drug to monitor the activities within the blood vessels and look for any decreases of blood flow.

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