Although it can be costly, your PET scan may be covered by insurance. Most heath insurance policies will pay for clinically indicated PET scans. PET scans are beneficial for detecting cancer, myocardial infarctions, and brain abnormalities.
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Since a PET scan is high technology, it tends to be more expensive than other imaging techniques. However, it is one of the most effective methods for diagnosing various conditions and assisting with treatment plans.
Not all insurance policies cover PET scans, and some will only cover a PET scan for an existing condition. Review your policy or call your insurance agent to confirm whether or not your PET scan is covered by insurance.
The Technology Behind a PET Scan
Positron Emission Tomography is what PET stands for. Using radioactive material, a PET scan can help detect a multitude of diseases as well as help determine one of the best methods of treatment. Sometimes a PET scan is assisted by a CT scan, which stands for Computed Tomography.
A CT scan can sometimes be superimposed over the PET scan to allow for additional views. CT scans do not use radioactive material, although they can sometimes use material such as barium or iodine in addition to specialized X-ray equipment.
The Benefits of a PET Scan
The benefit of a PET scan is the non-invasive technology used to detect various illnesses and problems within the body. A PET scan is administered via intravenous injection and requires no surgical procedure.
In addition to detecting cancer, a PET scan can detect if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. It can also help determine a treatment method and then later be used to see if the cancer has returned.
Other than cancer detection and treatment, a PET scan can be used to check for abnormalities of the brain. Brain abnormalities such as memory disorder, tumors, or even seizures, can be detected this way.
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People with certain heart conditions or risks can also benefit from a PET scan. For example, a PET scan can be used to determine if you need an angioplasty; or it can be used to determine how your heart is functioning post heart attack. Even the blood flow of your heart muscle can be easily detected with a PET scan.
What to Expect the Day of Your PET Scan
It is very important to follow the instructions given to you for proper preparation of a PET scan. If you are required to fast for several hours then it is imperative that you do so, otherwise your PET scan will have to be rescheduled. If a PET scan has to be repeated a second time because of improper preparation, your insurance company will not cover the second scan.
During the PET scan you are not allowed to wear any jewelry at all and you may also need to remove your dentures. Any special circumstances, such as diabetes, pregnancy, or breastfeeding, need to be discussed with your physician prior to scheduling the scan.
You will be given a hospital gown to wear and then you will lie on a table. You will then receive the radioactive material, which may be administered by IV, orally, or via gas inhalation. At this point you need to relax and simply allow the radioactive material to travel and be absorbed by your body. This process can take up to 60 minutes.
If you are going to have a CT scan accompany the PET scan then you will need to drink some contrast material as well. Contrast material is usually barium, iodine, or salt water, depending on the reason you are getting the scan. In some cases iodine may be mixed with another substance such as oil or water.
When you are ready for the scan, you will be moved to the scanning station. If you are having a CT scan that procedure will be done first, and it only takes about two minutes. The PET scan will then follow. That scan takes approximately 60 minutes during which time you should remain motionless.
Since The PET scan and CT scan are non-invasive you should experience very little discomfort throughout the procedure. However, since the materials used for the scan can cause allergic reactions or have adverse side effects, you should discuss all risks with your doctor prior to undergoing the scan(s).
If your doctor suggests that a PET or CT scan is necessary, consult with your insurance company to see if it is covered. In most cases, you will need to obtain authorization for the PET scan from your insurance company in advance of the procedure. If you don’t have insurance, you can get free health insurance quotes now online by following the prompts on this site.