Think twice before exercising when getting that PET scan

metabolize sugar at higher rates than normal cells, the radiopharmaceutical is drawn in higher concentrations (called "uptake") to cancerous areas. The PET scan shows where the radiopharmaceutical is by tracking the gamma ray signals given off by the radionuclides. PET scans are very sensitive, and increased physical activity can create problems in differentiating between normal and pathologic uptake, explained Osman. Normal muscles accumulate little FDG, but muscles exercised just before or around the time of the scanning can exhibit intense uptake into those muscles--for example, possibly mimicking cancer, he added.

The study advises technologists to instruct patients to minimize muscle activity during the uptake phase and to telephone patients ahead of their appointments to advise them to refrain from any excessive muscle activity at least 48 hours before a PET scan. The study's findings emphasize that the accuracy of studies for patients can be improved through educating technologists of the relationship between muscle activity and uptake and in coordinating a team approach with physicians, said Schlarman. "Technologists play a major role in informing physicians of patients' activity" that could skew the reading of their PET scans, Osman said. "Any unexpected or unexplained excessive muscle uptake should initiate communications between technologists and reading physicians to avoid false-positive PET scan interpretations," he added.

The team of technologist and physician researchers in St. Louis--all SNM or SNM Technologist Section members--studied the whole-body PET scans of more than 1,100 cancer patients over a one-year period. Of those patients, nearly 13 percent had excessively increased muscle uptake on the PET scan that matched technologists' notes of muscle activity during the uptake phase or prior to scanning. Increased uptake was seen in individuals' head and neck, thorax and upper extremities, indicating the influence of activities s

Contact: Maryann Verrillo
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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