Unlike large PET systems that scan a person’s entire body, Positron Emission Mammography is a special form of PET for imaging breasts and other small body parts. The PEM scanner isolates the affected body part and images that area. This produces a very sharp, detailed image of abnormal tissue, such as cancerous tumors. With PEM, doctors can see cancers as small as 1.5 – 2 mm, about the width of a grain of rice. The images obtained with the PEM scanner show the location of suspicious masses, giving physicians a “map” upon which they can base your treatment options and/or surgical plan. Armed with this information, doctors can better determine candidates for breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy. Also, knowing the exact location and extent of the cancer guides doctors during surgery and helps assure that they remove all suspicious tissue and thereby avoid repeat surgeries. Your doctor may also use PEM to monitor treatment or to check for a recurrence of disease.


About one hour before the PEM scan, a technologist will take a drop of blood from your finger to test your blood sugar level. If it is within the acceptable range, a small amount of radioactive sugar will be injected into your arm. You will then be directed to a quiet room and asked to sit still in a chair or lie comfortably in a recliner for about 60 minutes, giving your body ample time to absorb the sugar.
After an hour in the quiet room, you will be brought into the PEM scanning room and seated in a chair. The technologist will scan each breast separately for approximate 10-minute scans.
Using gentle immobilization, a typical PEM examination includes two (2) scans per breast and the entire procedure, including time in the quiet room, could take up to two (2) hours.
Once your PEM scan is completed, high-resolution images are generated and read by a physician, who will typically prepare and send a report to your doctor within 24 to 48 hours. Your doctor will then inform you of the results.

PEM Prep

The patient should eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet the day prior to the exam. The day of the exam, patients are instructed to have water only 6 hours prior to the exam and can take all non-diabetic medications. Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment.

To schedule an appointment and discuss how we can help you, contact Sugar Mill Diagnostic Imaging today or call 352-628-9900.

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