Cardiac PET

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans show the chemical functioning of organs and tissues, while other imaging techniques — such as X-ray, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans — show structure. That makes PET technology particularly useful for the detection of coronary artery disease.

Our innovative, integrated equipment combines the best of these two 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 recommend revascularization. CT helps to further increase the accuracy of PET by allowing perfect alignment of the cardiac silhouette and chest cage. PET scans take about 90 minutes to perform.

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. Intravenous medicine is sometimes used to stress the heart during a PET scan.

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. This information helps physicians determine whether a patient's heart muscle will benefit from coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty.

PET scans can detect more than 95% of people who have significant blockages of coronary arteries and produce reliably normal results in more than 95% of people with no heart disease. In addition, 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.

PET scans are non-invasive and painless.

The radiation you are exposed to during a PET scan is roughly equivalent to that of a kidney X-ray. Most people are candidates for PET scans. However, pregnant women, nursing mothers and people who have recently suffered stroke usually cannot have PET scans.

For more information, call Emory HealthConnection℠ at 404-778-7777 or 1-800-75-EMORY from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (Monday-Friday).