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Brain Positron Emission Tomography — also called a brain PET/CT scan — is a safe, effective and non-invasive diagnostic imaging technique that provides highly detailed images of the brain. A brain PET scan shows metabolic changes that cannot be seen on MRI or CT scans.
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches a brain PET/CT scan
The Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging program at Boston Children's is committed to providing you with a safe, comfortable and child-friendly atmosphere with:
What is a brain PET/CT scan?
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a highly sensitive technology that uses a radioactive substance to show the chemical and functional changes within the brain.
The radiopharmaceutical used is designed to go to the brain.
When might a brain PET/CT scan be needed?
A brain PET/CT is used for various conditions, including:
How should I prepare my child for a brain PET/CT scan?
You will be given specific instructions when you make your child's appointment. It is very important that you follow all preparation instructions or the scan will be rescheduled. In general:
You should expect your visit to last from one and one half to two hours.
What should I expect when I bring my child to the hospital for a brain PET/CT scan?
When you arrive, please go to the Nuclear Medicine check-in desk on the second floor of the main hospital. A clinical intake coordinator will check in your child and verify his registration information.
What happens during a brain PET/CT scan?
Obtaining a brain PET/CT scan involves three steps: injection of the radiopharmaceutical, a waiting period and scanning by the PET/CT machine.
Injection of the radiopharmaceutical:
The waiting period:
The PET scan:
Your child will be in the scanner from 15 to 30 minutes.
Will my child feel anything during a brain PET/CT scan?
Your child may experience some discomfort associated with the insertion of the intravenous needle. The needle used for the procedure is small. Once the radiopharmaceutical is injected, the needle is withdrawn and a bandaid is placed over the site of the injection. The area where the injection was given may be a little sore.
The PET/CT scanner does not touch your child, nor will he or she feel anything from the scanner.
Is a brain PET/CT scan safe?
We are committed to ensuring that your child receives the smallest radiation dose needed to obtain the desired result.
What happens after the brain PET/CT scan?
Once the brain PET/CT scan is complete, the images will be evaluated for quality. If the scan is adequate, your child will be free to leave and resume normal activity.
One of the Boston Children's nuclear medicine physicians will review your child's images and create a report of the findings and diagnosis.
How do I learn the results of the brain PET/CT scan?
The nuclear medicine physician will provide a report to the doctor who ordered your child's brain PET/CT scan. Your child's doctor will then discuss the results with you.
Department of Radiology
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”