Cardiac PET/CT

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans is used to evaluate the chemical function of tissues and organs, while other imaging techniques – such as X-ray, CT and MRI scans – show structure. For the detection of coronary artery disease, PET technology is particually useful, due to its ability to highlight functional issues of the heart.

Our innovative, integrated PET/CT scan equipment combines the best of chemical and structural imaging technologies. PET permits assessment of myocardial perfusion and metabolism with superior accuracy. The results help our physicians identify the extent of heart disease and know when to suggest revascularization to the patient. CT helps to further increase the accuracy of PET by allowing perfect alignment of the cardiac silhouette and chest cage.

How it works: Rubidium-82, a radioactive tracer that emits subatomic particles called positrons, is injected into the patient's arm. The blood stream carries the positrons to the heart muscle. A special PET camera detects the emitted positrons and constructs a picture of the heart.

PET scans reveal the health of the vessels supplying blood to the heart, heart muscle and surrounding tissue. The most common use of PET imaging in cardiology is to identify heart muscle weakened but not damaged irreversibly by blocked arteries – that information helps physcians determine whether a patient's heart muscle will benefit from coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty.

More facts about cardiac PET scans:

  • PET scans are non-invasive and painless.
  • PET scans can detect over 95 percent of people who have significant blockages of coronary arteries and produce reliably normal results in over 95 percent of people with no heart disease.
  • The radiation you are exposed to during a PET scan is roughly equivalent to that of a kidney X-ray.
  • Sometimes, an intravenous medicine is used to stress the heart in conjunction with the PET scan.
  • PET scans take about 90 minutes to perform.
  • PET scans rarely produce "false positives" (test results showing heart disease where none exists) — so they are often used to confirm other tests when a false positive is suspected.
  • Most people are candidates for PET scans. However, pregnant women, nursing mothers and people who have recently suffered stroke usually cannot have PET scans.