Skip to main content

Preparing for a PET/CT Scan

Accredited by the American College of Radiology

The team at Children's Mercy has this information to answer your questions and help you prepare your child for their visit. 

When you arrive at the radiology department, your child will have an IV placed or a central line will be used. A small amount of material that can be seen by the scan will be injected through the IV. The nuclear medicine technologist will take your child’s pictures three hours later. This time allows that material to circulate through your child's body. The pictures take about one hour with your child lying on their back. They will need to remain still and cannot get up during the pictures.

Preparation instructions


  • Nothing to eat or drink six hours prior to scan

  • No strenuous exercise for 24 hours prior to exam

  • The day prior to the exam, the patient should consume low-carbohydrate foods

  • No gum, candy, breath mints the morning of the exam

  • Many families have found the additional information provided from valuable as they have prepared for this type of scan 

  • The Image Gently Alliance  may help you understanding types of imaging and what "imaging safely" means to you and your child

Safe, expert imaging for your child

Children's Mercy has been awarded accreditation in all areas of imaging technology by the American College of Radiology. This represents the highest level of image quality and radiation safety.

A CT scan being performed at Children's Mercy.

What to expect: CT scan

A CT Scan is a way of taking pictures of the inside of your body. You lay on a bed that slowly moves into a big circle where a camera takes pictures of your body. During these pictures your most important jobs are to hold very still and to be very quiet. The camera never touches you. You might hear beeping or buzzing sounds while the camera is working. Your parent or child life specialist can stay with you while the camera is working.