Nuclear medicine procedures can be time consuming. It can take hours to days for the radiotracer to accumulate in the part of the body under study and imaging may take up to several hours to perform, though in some cases, newer equipment is available that can substantially shorten the procedure time.
The resolution of structures of the body with nuclear medicine may not be as high as with other imaging techniques, such as CT or MRI. However, nuclear medicine scans are more sensitive than other techniques for a variety of indications, and the functional information gained from nuclear medicine exams is often unobtainable by other imaging techniques.
PET scanning can give false results if chemical balances within the body are not normal. Specifically, test results of diabetic patients or patients who have eaten within a few hours prior to the examination can be adversely affected because of altered blood sugar or blood insulin levels.
Because the radioactive substance decays quickly and is effective for only a short period of time, it is important for the patient to be on time for the appointment and to receive the radioactive material at the scheduled time. Thus, late arrival for an appointment may require rescheduling the procedure for another day.
A person who is very obese may not fit into the opening of a conventional PET/CT unit.