PET brain scan

What is this test?

It is a scan to look for seizures, where they start in the brain, and to check for other neurological disorders.

Your appointment

If you make any changes to your insurance before your appointment please call Registration at 1-866-309-0832. This will help lessen delays and the need to reschedule your test, as many radiology services need pre-authorization.

Take Elevator I to the Lower Level. The PET Imaging Center is across the hall from the elevator.

If you cannot do the prep listed below, you may not be able to have the test, or it may need to be rescheduled.

Call the PET Center at 1-319-356-4100 and ask to talk with a nurse if you cannot keep your appointment or have questions.

Getting ready for your test

  • You will have your blood sugar checked when you get to the PET Center. If your blood sugar is above 200, the test will be rescheduled.
  • You have to be seizure free for 12 hours before your test.
  • Do not wear jewelry.
  • Do not wear clothing with metal.

Before your test, tell your doctor or nurse if:

  • You are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.
  • You have diabetes. Your diabetes medicine may need to be changed before the test.
  • You have a fear of closed-in places or if you are very nervous.


  • Do not eat for six hours before the test. You may drink water.
    • If you get food through a tube, stop the tube feeding six hours before the test.
    • If you get nourishment through a vein in your arm, such as parenteral nutrition (TPN), stop the infusion six hours before the test.
  • If you have any other test today where you are told not to eat or drink for a longer amount of time, follow those instructions. 


  • Take your normal medications with water before your test.
  • Talk to a nurse in the PET Center if you take medicine for your diabetes.

What to expect

  • The test will take 15 to 20 minutes. You may be at the PET Center for two hours.
    • During the test, we will give you a small amount of radioactive tracer into your vein through an intravenous catheter (IV).
  • You will wait 40 minutes in a room with the lights off before the test.
  • After the test you may:
    • Eat your normal diet
    • Do your normal activity. 
Last reviewed: 
September 2020

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