Patient having a PET scanPatient having a PET scanPatient having a PET scan

Clinics & services

PET scans

Having a PET scan

Everything you need to know about coming for a PET scan.

What is a PET scan?

Positron Emission Tomography - or PET scanning - is a type of imaging that shows how your organs and tissues are working. In most instances, a PET scan is combined with a CT scan. At Austin Health, the CT component of the PET/CT scan is used to gather structural information for the PET scan. It does not remove the necessity for you to have a standalone diagnostic CT scan, depending on clinical circumstances.

Before your PET scan

Please fast for six hours before your scan. Have nothing to eat or drink except water. We encourage you to keep hydrated by drinking water. If you are diabetic, claustrophobic, pregnant or breastfeeding, please contact us before you arrive for the appointment.

What does a PET/CT scan involve?

The first person you will see when you arrive for your scan is a technologist. They will ask for your medical history and explain the procedure.

We will then give you an injection of radioactive tracer. You will need to lie in a dark room for one hour while the tracer spreads around your body.

You will then go into the scanner room for the PET/CT scan. The scan will take 20-30 minutes.

Allow at least 2 hours for the whole procedure. After the scan, you will be able to drive back home and go back to your normal routine.

If you are claustrophobic and are sedated, please arrange for someone to drive you home. It is important to tell us if you are claustrophobic when you book your appointment.

It is best not to schedule another appointment too close to your PET scan appointment, in case of delays.

Are there any risks from a PET/CT scan?

You will receive a very small dose of radiation. There are no known side effects. If you have any concerns, please let us know.

Who can book a PET scan?

At Austin Health, the PET referral must be completed and signed by a medical specialist/consultant. A GP cannot refer a patient for a PET scan.

Do I have to pay for a PET scan?

There is no cost for most PET scans if you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and covered by Medicare.

For a limited number of indications that are not approved by Medicare, there can be a charge to the patient. However the decision to charge is usually discussed with your referring doctor and yourself before attending the PET scan.

If you are from overseas, charges will apply. Please let us know if this is the case.