Brain Imaging: PET Scan


  • PET stands for positron emission tomography.
  • A radioactive tracer medication is injected into the vein. A CT is then performed.
  • The scan provides information about the chemical and biological functioning of the brain tissue.
  • An Amyvid PET scan may be considered. Amyvid is a radiotracer that attaches to and shows the density of amyloid plaque in the brain.  Amyloid plaques can lead to interrupted brain connections and cognitive impairment.



  • Carolina Imaging is the provider of choice for brain images ordered by Memory & Movement Charlotte (MMC). They have multiple testing sites throughout the region.
  • Once the order is entered, the need for prior authorization from the insurance company will be determined. The test cannot be scheduled until authorization is confirmed.  The MMC staff will provide authorization information when available, often immediately upon sending the order.  Ultimately it is the responsibility of the guarantor to confirm coverage.
  • Upon receiving the order, Carolina Imaging will schedule the test at the first available date and time. This may take up to 5 business days.
  • An automated call, text or email will communicate the scheduled date and time to the person for whom the test is scheduled. MMC does request the communication be provided to the caregiver if appropriate, but Carolina Imaging is not always able to honor this request.
  • If the scheduled date and time are feasible, no further action is needed.
  • If the scheduled date and time are not feasible, call Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060 to reschedule.
  • If an automated message is not received after 5 days, please schedule by calling Carolina Imaging at 704-512-2060.
  • If a testing site other than Carolina Imaging is preferred, please let the provider know.
  • Amyvid PET scans are not done at Carolina Imaging. Additional scheduling information will be provided if this test is ordered.



  • Do not eat or drink anything except water in the 4 hours before the scheduled time of the test. It is advisable to drink two to four glasses of water the evening before the test.
  • The last meal eaten prior to the test should be low in carbohydrates and high in protein.
  • Take medications as prescribed except for alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium) or medical marijuana. These should be taken by 11:59pm the night before the test.
  • Oral medication for diabetes should be taken as prescribed.
  • No insulin should be administered during the two hours before the scheduled test time. If an insulin pump is in use, it must be set to the basal rate.
  • The blood sugar level for the test should be 200 mg/dL or less.



  • Upon arrival at the testing area, jewelry is removed, and a gown provided.
  • The individual is escorted to a procedure room and an intravenous catheter is placed in the vein. Blood sugar is tested and the radioactive tracer is administered. It will take approximately one hour for the tracer to circulate throughout the body and to the brain.
  • After the tracer has circulated, the individual will be moved to the CT area and lie on a table.
  • A machine with a large opening will rotate around the person’s head, taking x-ray images.
  • Whirling and buzzing sounds occur during the test.
  • It is important to lie still during this time.
  • The CT portion of the test takes approximately 15 minutes.
  • Drink plenty of fluids once the test is completed.



  • Test results are generally available within 24 hours.
  • Test results are best discussed at the next scheduled follow-up appointment so they can be presented along with other information to make a diagnosis.
  • The office may call before the next scheduled appointment if the results are significant and additional action is needed.