PET/CT for Neuroendocrine Tumors - What to Expect

For patients with neuroendocrine cancers, accurate diagnosis and tracking of tumors has long been very difficult. Fortunately, in June 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new pharmaceutical that, when used with positron emission tomography (PET), makes these rare tumors visible on medical images. This pharmaceutical goes by several names: Gallium-68, Gallium Dotatate, and NETSpot.

At the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center, we offer a combined PET and computed tomography (CT) exam for the imaging of neuroendocrine tumors. The PET highlights the tumors, the CT shows a detailed view of the body, and a computer merges the two sets of images into one.

Before Arriving for Your Exam

  • This exam takes about two to 2.5 hours. This is from when you arrive to the time you leave the imaging center.
  • Consult with your physician about stopping any short-acting somatostatin medications for 48 hours before your exam.
  • If you are receiving long-acting somatostatins (monthly injection), please schedule your exam to take place at least three weeks after receiving this medication and before your next injection.
  • Do not stop any medication unless instructed to do so by your physician.
  • Please do not eat anything for three hours prior to your exam.
  • Please do not drink anything other than water for three hours prior to your exam.
  • Try to wear clothing without metal items, such as zippers or clasps (even some sequins). If you are wearing metal, you may be asked to change into a hospital gown before your scan.

During Your Exam

  • Your exam will be explained to you by one of our imaging technologists, who will also answer any questions you might have.
  • You will need to remove any metal items you may be wearing. You may be requested to change into a gown if you are wearing this type of clothing.
  • The exam begins with an injection of the Gallium. This will be given to you by one of our certified nuclear medicine technologists.
  • After this injection, you must wait quietly for one hour while the Gallium moves through your body.
  • After an hour, you will be escorted to a room with one of our PET/CT scanners.
  • You will be asked to lay down on the scanner’s bed, which will move you into the scanner.
  • Your technologist will be able to see and hear you throughout your exam.
  • The exam takes about 40 minutes.

After Your Exam

  • Once the scan is complete, you can leave. The scan does not require any changes to your diet or activities once it is over.
  • We ask that you stop by one of our “We Value Your Voice” feedback displays to share with us your experience at the imaging center.
  • Your study will be reviewed by an imaging physician who is specialized in nuclear medicine exams. If your doctor has also requested a diagnostic CT, the CT portion will be read by an imaging physician who is sub-specialized in body imaging.
  • The results will be sent to your physician, who will discuss them with you and explain what they mean in relation to your health.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.