18F-PSMA PET/CT Scans
Information for Patients
A Guide to your 18F-PSMA PET/CT Scan
Your referring specialist has decided that you should have a PET/CT scan as part of your care at this hospital. This is an extremely beneficial procedure as it provides a lot of very useful
information that will help decide the type of treatment you may need.
This page contains important information about the procedure, as well as some things that you will need to know and do beforehand. This will help us to ensure that everything runs smoothly
for you and you get the best from your scan.
Read this page carefully and if there are any questions or concerns please telephone the department on 01792 517 965.
Download the information sheet.
Patient Information & Guidance - 18F-PSMA PET/CT Scan.
What is an 18F-PSMA PET/CT scan?
A PET/CT scan is made up of two scan types or ‘imaging’:
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) uses very small amounts of a radioactive tracer (18F-PSMA) which, once injected into one of your veins, can be seen on the scan and show how
parts of your body are functioning.
CT (Computed Tomography) uses X-rays to produce images of the different density or thickness of organs in your body.
By combining these two images, a PET/CT scan can show how well certain parts of your body are working, as well as showing what they look like. You get a very detailed and
accurate internal picture which a referring specialist can use to help diagnose and, if necessary, decide the most effective treatment.
PET/CT scans are particularly helpful for investigating confirmed cases of cancer, to see how far the cancer has spread and how well it is responding to treatment.
Preparing for your scan
- Take all regular medication as normal and bring a list of your medication with you to your appointment;
Avoid strenuous activity and exercise for 24 hours prior to your appointment. Why?
- We need you to be as relaxed and rested as possible. Unnecessary radioactive uptake in active muscles will also reduce the quality of your scan.
Make sure you keep yourself warm for 12 hours before your scan, and bring some warm clothes to your appointment with you. Why?
- If you are cold, there may be more uptake of the radioactive tracer in your muscles and other tissues. This could reduce the quality of your scan.
If possible, wear loose fitting clothes without metal zips/fasteners and minimal jewellery. We will be able to provide suitable clothing, alternatively. Why?
You will need to remove any jewellery or metallic objects, as the presence of metals will create imaging problems. We can’t guarantee the safety of valuables so you may want to leave them at home.
If you are running late or are unable to attend, you must contact us IMMEDIATELY. Aim to arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment. Why?
For the procedure, you will be given an injection, which is produced just for you and has a very short shelf life. If you are late, we may not be able to proceed
with your scan.
If you think you are going to be late, or don’t think you can come please call us on 01792 517 965 as soon as possible.
You may bring a friend or relative, provided that they are over 18 and not pregnant. However, they will have to remain in the waiting room during your appointment.
If you are claustrophobic, please ask the hospital staff before the day of the scan about the possibility of having a mild sedative to help you relax.
Sometimes your referring specialist may also decide to give you a sedative to get better results from your scan. This will be discussed with you prior to your appointment.
You will be asked not to drive for 24 hours afterwards, as it may not be safe to do so.
Expect to be in the department for 2-3 hours.
What does the test involve?
- Following check-in at reception, you will be escorted to a private preparation area;
- You may be asked to change into a gown and remove jewellery or metallic objects;
- You will be asked a brief medical history and the procedure will be explained;
- Sometimes there will be staff in supervised clinical training present. Please tell us if you are not comfortable with this.
- A small needle will be inserted into a vein in your arm/hand. The radioactive tracer will then be injected;
- After the injection, you will need to rest and remain lying down comfortably for approximately 2 hours while the radioactive tracer is absorbed into your body.
You will be asked to avoid talking while you wait because moving and speaking can affect where 18F-PSMA goes in your body;
- Immediately prior to your scan, you will be asked to empty your bladder;
- In the scanning room, you will be asked to lie on your back on the scanning bed with your arms supported above your head. In certain circumstances, we may scan you with your arms by your side;
- The bed will move through the ring of the scanner and collect images for between 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of scan that you need;
- It is very important that you keep still during the entire scan.
Benefits, Risks and Side Effects
The main benefit of the test is making the correct diagnosis or allowing us to effectively monitor your treatment. Please remember that your referring specialist has decided that this scan is beneficial for you.
Nuclear Medicine procedures are among the safest of diagnostic imaging tests. The amount of radiation received during a PET/CT scan will have been approved by an
imaging specialist and tailored specifically to you. The typical amount of radiation from the entire examination is about the same as you would receive naturally
over seven years so the risks associated with it are considered to be low. Also, there have been no documented side effects associated with the radioactive tracer.
The scan will not be uncomfortable, apart from the pinprick of the injections. You will need to remain still while the pictures are taken but you will be placed as
comfortably as possible.
After the scan
Once the scan is complete and you have used the toilet, you are free to leave as soon as you feel ready. You may eat and drink immediately after the scan. Drink 4-5 glasses
of water and empty your bladder frequently, to flush any excess tracer from your kidneys. This will lower the radiation dose to your bladder and pelvis.
We recommend that you stay away from pregnant women and young children for about 8 hours while the radioactive tracer may still be in your system.
When will I get my results?
You will not have the results on the day of your scan. Your scan will be analysed by our Consultant Radiologist and a report will be sent to the referring
specialist who requested your scan within 1 week.
- If you are on dialysis treatment, please contact the department (unless you have already discussed this with us).
- Please do not give blood or urine samples during the first 24 hours following your PET/CT scan appointment.
- Continue with any medication that has been prescribed for you.
- Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours prior to your appointment.
- Keep warm for 12 hours before your appointment, and bring some warm clothes with you.
- Arrive at the department promptly at the time and date given on the front of this leaflet.
- Upon arrival, report to the PET/CT reception desk. A map of the hospital is shown on the bottom of this page.
- If you are given a sedative, you will be asked not to drive for 24 hours following your scan. Please make sure that you have planned how you will get home.
Please be aware that we can sometimes experience technical difficulties with the scanner or the injection (which is manufactured off-site). On these rare occasions, we
will inform you as soon as possible and we will arrange a new appointment with you.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your appointment, please contact us on 01792 517 965 or alternatively on 01792 285 295.
You will be asked to complete a “Friends and Family” questionnaire following your scan. We want to provide the best care possible to all our patients so would very much like to hear from you about your experience – things that we did well, and areas where we could improve. If you have any concerns about your experience you can also speak directly with a member of the team.
You can provide your comments by:
- Using the “Contact” form on our website: Click here to provide your comments using the contact form on our website
- Contacting our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) via telephone 01792 205666, extension 37517 or 37518
- Writing to: Monica Martins, Clinical Team Lead, Nuclear Medicine & PET-CT, Singleton Hospital, Sketty Lane, Swansea SA2 8QA.