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A Guide To DOTA PET CT scans- Things You Must Know


Cancer is a highly unpredictable disease that affects billions of people worldwide. Each type of cancer cell has its own distinct  set of behavioural characteristics. 

In particular, neuroendocrine tumours or NET, can be hard to predict and detect, as they can develop anywhere in the body, such as the pancreas, intestines, stomach, and more. The tumours also spread at different rates. Another differentiating characteristic of these tumours is that they often cannot get detected on regular imaging techniques.  Thus, it follows that they need different and specific imaging techniques that can detect these tumours at the earliest, for access to easier treatments with greater success rates. The Gallium-68 DOTA PET CT is a one of its kind imaging technology. It is significantly better than the other imaging technology options available to doctors and patients, allowing for accurate and precise detection of NETs.

What is a DOTA PET scan?

The DOTA PET CT scan (Gallium-68 DOTATATE scan) is a technology available for the detection and care of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). It is an extremely sensitive technology. The DOTA PET CT scan is able to detect the smallest of lesions quite early. This facilitates a precise and appropriate treatment plan to be set in place for successful treatment response. Unlike other cancers which consume glucose, NETs have receptors for somatostatin, which is a hormone. Hence most of them are not detected on routine imaging techniques such as FDG-PET CT scans. A DOTA PET CT scan is a radioactive scan (68Ga) tagged with DOTATATE that resembles somatostatin and bonds to the tumour receptors to highlight NET. Other previously used cancer imaging techniques which have been in use to diagnose NETs take 4-6 hours and even a few days. In comparison, the DOTA PET CT scan offers higher precision and  accuracy of NET detection. The scan also offers improved patient comfort due to the lesser amount of time which is taken to conduct the scan.

What are the benefits of DOTA PET CT Scans?

The DOTA PET CT scan offers several advantages to doctors and patients. This makes it a very efficient  choice of imaging technology in diagnosing NETs. 

Some of its key benefits include-

  1. Faster scanning time– The DOTA PET CT scan can be completed in just 15-20 minutes. This is much quicker than the previous technique of a three-day octreoscan, which takes a minimum of 3-4 days to complete. This allows for timely detection of tumours without the hassle of travelling back and forth to the testing centre consecutively.
  2. Detailed images of high quality– The DOTA PET CT scan is highly sensitive. It is able to provide high-resolution images that can identify even sub-centimeter sized lesions. This leads to a higher success rate in the detection of tumours. It also helps doctors to plan appropriate treatments.
  3. Assists in creation of treatment plans– The high quality results obtained from a DOTA PET CT scan ensure that doctors and healthcare professionals can effectively and efficiently draw up treatment plans which are appropriate for the patient. They can also use the technology to assess the success of the treatments for the best possible outcome. 

Is a DOTA PET CT scan safe?

Everything in the world has its own set of pros and cons. Likewise, the DOTA PET CT scan also has a few risks that patients should be aware of. They include-

  1. Since poorly differentiated NET tumours are less sensitive to show up on a  DOTA PET CT scan, this may make it difficult to identify them at an early stage.
  2. Patients taking somatostatin analogs should stop taking the drug for 3-4 weeks before the scan. The drug may show a false negative result on the DOTA PET CT scan.

What do you need to do before a DOTA PET CT scan?

If you are going in for a DOTA PET CT scan, here are a few things you should keep in mind-

  • The patient needs to inform the attending nurse, technician or the physician of any previous history of contrast allergy, asthma, arthritis, joint issues or fracture. In such cases, 15 minutes before the procedure, pre-medication is administered.
  • The patient must also inform the doctor of any past history of surgery.
  • If the patient has done the scan earlier, he should carry the past reports to the diagnostic centre.
  • If the patient knows or believes she is pregnant, she should inform the attending staff.

What happens during a DOTA PET CT scan?

Here is what you can expect to happen during the procedure:

  • You will be settled comfortably in an area where your privacy is respected throughout the entire procedure. You will also be given a hospital gown to change into.
  • You will have to take off all jewellery and ornaments, metallic accessories and inner wear with metal wires etc.
  • A cannula is inserted and a small dose of radioactive injection is given via IV. Following this, you will be isolated for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 
  • You must drink water during this period of isolation. Before you are taken for the imaging, you will be asked to void urine.
  • Post 45 minutes of isolation, the whole body scan is done.
  • After this, PET imaging is done. This usually takes about 10 minutes.

Things to keep in mind after a DOTA PET CT Scan

Alright, you went through the main procedure of getting a DOTA PET CT scan. What do you need to do after the procedure? Here are a few things to remember:

  • If you were sedated before the scan, you will be kept under observation in the recovery room for some time.
  • You must drink at least 2 to 3 litres of water throughout the day. This is essential to flush out the remaining radioactive medicine in the body.
  • You should stay away from pregnant women and children for 24 hours to avoid radioactive exposure.
  • Lactating mothers should stop feeding for 24 hours after the scan.
  • There are no dietary restrictions after the scan.  You may also resume all your normal activities.

ConclusionTo summarise, a DOTA PET CT scan is one of the best techniques available to detect neuroendocrine tumours in the body. The technology helps doctors prepare the right treatment plan for every patient. Visit Kiran PET CT diagnostic centre in Bangalore for your imaging needs and get access to modern healthcare which is designed for your best health.