What to Expect - EEG Monitored PET Scan

Cottage Health Children's Therapy Services

Your doctor has ordered a Brain PET (positron emission tomography) scan. The purpose of this procedure is to show how the brain uses oxygen and sugar (glucose).

In people diagnosed with epilepsy, a Brain PET can help identify regions in the brain that are possibly related to the onset of seizures. This test is also used if you are being evaluated for epilepsy surgery.

What to Expect

An electroencephalogram technologist (EEG tech) will apply electrodes to your scalp, such as you may previously had, to record brain waves before the test. After the electrodes are applied, you will have an intravenous catheter (IV) placed and a nuclear medicine technologist will inject a radioactive tracer.

The EEG will be recorded until you are taken for the PET scan. The time between the injection and the scan may range from 45 to 60 minutes.

EEG brain scan with electrodes being placed on head

A special nuclear medicine scanner will take pictures of your brain. The scanner does not produce any radiation; it simply detects and records the distribution of the radioactive material in your body from the injection.

The actual scan takes about 15 minutes. You will be asked to lie flat on your back without moving. After completion of the scan, you are free to go home.

Test Location

At Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, this test is done at the Ridley Tree Nuclear Medicine department—part of the Sansum Clinic Cancer Center, located on the first floor of the hospital. You will arrive at the Virgil Elings Lobby to check in for this study and will be escorted to the Nuclear Medicine Department.

Here is some important information we want you to be aware of:

Before Your Exam

  • Please do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours prior to your appointment time, except plain water and medication. You can have a high-protein diet up until 8 hours prior to the scan. If you eat within 8 hours prior to the scan, it will need to be rescheduled.
  • Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.
  • Please leave your jewelry and valuables at home.

After Your Exam

  • There are no special post-exam instructions, however it’s important to stay hydrated.
  • Drink plenty of water for the next 24-48 hours.
  • Your study will be reviewed by an imaging physician specialist and the results sent to your neurologist. He or she will discuss these results with you and explain what they mean.

If you are diabetic, please follow these instructions:

The Day Before Your PET Scan

  • Eat a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet. Some examples of foods you may eat include:
    • Eggs (any style)
    • Meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish, bacon, sausage)
    • Non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce
    • Cheese
    • Black coffee, sugar-free teas
    • Diet soda
    • Water
  • Avoid eating carbohydrates such as fruit, milk, pasta, cereal, bread, rice and starchy vegetables (examples: peas, potatoes, corn, chili beans).
  • Test your blood sugars before each meal and at bedtime; then use a sliding scale to correct blood sugar as instructed.
  • Do not eat anything after midnight. You may drink water.

On the Day of Your PET Scan

  • Do not take your usual insulin in the morning.
  • Check your blood sugar after the overnight fast to make sure it is under 200. Do not eat or drink fluids, except water for six hours prior to the test.
  • You may take your regularly scheduled nondiabetes medications if tolerated on an empty stomach.

Cottage Locations

Support Group

Doctor speaking with a patient

Cottage Epilepsy Center offers a support group for patients and their families to discuss issues related to the condition and the effect that it has on the patient and family. For more information call, 805-832-3633.

View Classes