18F-dihydroxyphenylalanine (18F – DOPA) is a positron-emitting compound used in PET examinations for patients with neuroendocrine tumours, suspected Parkinson’s disease, congenital hyperinsulinemia and medullary thyroid cancer.

FDOPA Website Image

The test involves an injection of a radioactive tracer (18F-DOPA) which is a positron emitter.  18F-DOPA acts as an amino acid analog which can bind to a target cell within the amino acid transport system.  Uptake of 18F-DOPA by these target cells depends primarily on the expression of certain receptors present, and these can be utilised for 18F-DOPA imaging. 


  • Our team will provide any specific instructions at the time of booking and these should be followed carefully.


    Queensland X-Ray strive for service excellence, and want the best possible outcomes for our patients, therefore our preparation includes following a low protein diet from midnight prior to your test.


    You will be required to fast from food for a minimum of four hours prior to your appointment.


    It is important that you remain well hydrated.

  • ARRIVAL (15-30 MINS)
    When you arrive for your appointment, our reception staff will ask that you complete a questionnaire and sign a consent form. In line with your appointment time, a nurse will welcome you through for the procedure. Please be mindful that some patients take longer than others to get settled and your appointment time may vary.

    Once you have changed into a gown, our nurse will get you settled in a private uptake room. The procedure will be explained to you, your recent medical history will be reviewed, and an IV cannula will be placed into your arm. An IV line will be connected to your cannula, through which the PET tracer will be injected. At this point you will be left to watch TV and relax while the tracer is infused. After approximately 90 minutes of rest, we’ll take you through to the PET/CT scanner.

    The PET/CT scanner is a doughnut-shape with a bed passing through the middle. You will be asked to lie on the bed as still as you can. The bed will move through the scanner to acquire your images. You may be required to have your arms stretched above your head during the scan.

    • The PET part of the scan detects the radiation released from the tracer which has now been taken up throughout your body. [10-15 mins]
    • The CT part of the scan images your anatomy and alterations in its structure such as tumour growth and other changes related to
      disease. [5-10 mins]
    • The PET and CT images are then combined and used together to stage, plan, or measure treatment outcomes.

    Following your scan you will be offered something to eat, be encouraged to stay well hydrated and to use the bathroom as required. We will monitor you for 15 minutes following the CT contrast injection and then remove your IV line. During this time we will process your images.

  • 18F-DOPA can take between 2.5 and 3 hours. Please refer to the above item 'What will happen during my appointment' for more information.

  • As 18F-DOPA is quite a versatile radiopharmaceutical, physiological distribution in other organs is quite common. Other organs may include the striatum, kidneys, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, biliary tract, oesophagus, myocardium and duodenum. Although these organs will receive some of the radiation, clinical trials have not demonstrated significant impacts from this compound.

  • At Queensland X-Ray, an 18F – DOPA scan is delivered with assistance from a highly skilled team of nuclear medicine technologists, nurses and clerical staff.

  • The cost of scans are subject to variation based on several factors. We will inform you of the price at the time of booking. If you have any questions about costs, please feel free to contact us, and one of our team members will be happy to assist you with your query.

How much will it cost?

Fees for radiology procedures will vary depending on a variety of factors. We will advise you about the cost of your service at the time of booking but if you do have any questions, contact us and one of our team will be happy to help with your query. You can read more about our billing information here.

How do I access my images?

At Queensland X-Ray, we provide our patients with their images and results online. To access your images and results, you’ll need to register for an account when you visit one of our practices. If you’ve already registered, you can access the Patient Portal here.

Find another service