Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans are typically performed with the use of a contrast agent known as a radiotracer. This radiotracer is administered to the patient before the scan to help create detailed images of the body’s internal structures and functions. While contrast is commonly used in PET scans, there are circumstances in which a PET scan can be done without contrast:
- Non-Contrast PET Scans: In some cases, a non-contrast PET scan may be sufficient for the diagnostic purpose. This is often the case when the primary goal of the scan is to detect specific metabolic or functional changes in tissues, such as cancerous activity. These scans rely on the patient’s body’s natural metabolic processes and do not involve the use of an external contrast agent.
- Patient Allergies or Contraindications: Some patients may have allergies or contraindications to the contrast agents used in PET scans. In such situations, a non-contrast PET scan may be the only safe option.
- Research or Experimental Protocols: In certain research or experimental protocols, non-contrast PET scans might be used to investigate specific physiological processes without the use of external contrast agents.
- Pediatric Scans: In some cases, especially with pediatric patients, healthcare providers may try to minimize the use of contrast agents to reduce potential risks and discomfort.
It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider or the medical team responsible for your PET scan to determine whether contrast is necessary for your specific medical situation. They will consider your medical history, the purpose of the scan, and any contraindications or concerns you may have. When contrast is not required or cannot be used, the medical team will ensure that the non-contrast PET scan provides the necessary information for diagnosis or research.