I learned last week that the PET scan is actually two scans in one tube. The process involves yet another CT scan and the PET portion is attached to the CT; extending the tube about 36". In preparation, I was instructed to follow a strict protein diet 24 hrs before the scan. Those of you who have been following my Primal exploits will understand that this was a breeze. Additionally, I was only allowed water 6 hrs prior to the scan.
The PET scan involves starving the body of sugar (glucose). They introduce a radioactive, fluorescent glucose solution which any highly active cancer cells immediately draw on for fuel. This consolidation of glucose is then caught with the PET scan using 3D triangulation to determine if you have relapsed.
I arrived at the LHCP with a couple of books, a mix CD with several cuts from the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"(see previous post) and a few CDs just in case the mix disc wouldn't play. I was escorted to a private waiting room(see image) where Todd, my concierge, explained absolutely everything to me. He wears a radiation ring and a radiation badge that is sent in every month in order to track the amounts of radiation to which he is exposed. This tracks lifetime accumulations and at some level, you may need to find another line of work but so far, his levels are negligible thanks to the protocols they follow. Since this is also a CT scan, he had me drink an alternative to the BS solution I have blogged about previously. This step was much less involved than the normal consumption expectations and he started an IV line that would usher in saline, the radioactive glucose and the contrast solution. Todd also made me aware that during the scan they would play any of my CDs or they had access to satellite radio. He was a DJ while in college in Iowa and suggested the station FirstWave. Recommendations of books and music are always a welcome surprise and keep me out of my comfort zone.
Todd also brought in a small lead toolbox containing the glucose. The actual syringe is housed within a thick, tungsten cylinder with the plunger sticking out one side and the IV connection on the other. Todd explained that this cylinder is very difficult to construct due to the material properties of tungsten. This is Iron Man territory.
Todd tested my glucose level (78...ahem, thank you Primal) and injected the glucose. Now I wait for 90 minutes for the glucose to properly steep. Todd offered me a selection of movies, TV, music or a laptop. Laptop? 90 minutes to browse the Web was an ideal way to dwindle away the time.
What seemed like moments later, I was escorted to the scanner (see photo) and asked to relieve myself of any extraneous radioactive glucose (to pee). I then removed all my metal and climbed into the scanner. BTW, this is only one of four in Michigan plus another 2 portable machines. Apparently there were more portable companies traveling to rural areas of Michigan but their business models collapsed with the ridiculous price of fuel so only two portable PET machines survive.
They had me hold my arms above my head the whole scan which didn't bode well for the shoulder but I survived. They then added contrast to the IV and that old familiar metallic heat spread through my chest, neck and face. As I entered the tube, FirstWave thumped out the Clash's "I Fought the Law". The scan took about 20 minutes and as I exited the tube the Pretenders "Don't Get me Wrong" faded from the speakers. I was led back to the room to collect my things and was greeted with a hospitality cart filled with everything I don't eat (see waiting room photo). Damn you Primal.
Results should be ready on Weds during my Noon appt with the Onc. This is a big one.