Cardiac PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan Imaging

One of the most advanced molecular imaging diagnostic tools in the world, PET/CT combines the functional imaging capabilities of a PET (positron emission tomography) scan for the heart with the anatomical detail capabilities of a CT (computed tomography) scan. This provides a rapid and more accurate assessment of cardiovascular disease, while delivering lower dosages of radiation to the patient. Both scans are performed at the same time — on the same machine — to deliver superior results.

What is a PET scan of the heart?

A positron emission tomography (PET) scan of the heart is an imaging test that uses specialized dye containing radioactive tracers to detect whether your heart is receiving enough blood or if there is any damage to the heart muscle. A PET scan allows your doctor to see which areas of your heart may be injured or diseased. The imaging is performed after a pharmacological (medication-based) stress test. This is typically an outpatient procedure and does not have any long-term effects. 

What to expect during a PET scan procedure

The PET scanner is a large machine with a round, donut-shaped hole in the middle, similar to an MRI scanner. You will be asked to lie down in the center of the scanner for imaging. The enclosure is somewhat small, so let your provider know beforehand if you tend to experience claustrophobia.

This procedure typically takes about one hour to complete from start to finish. When you arrive, you’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and empty your bladder for testing. A health care specialist will then inject the radioactive tracer into your arm or hand. You may feel a cold sensation moving up your arm. The stress test with the medication lasts one to four minutes and is performed while you’re in the scanner. You’re typically in the scanner for a maximum of 30 minutes.

 A PET scan is the most accurate test available for observing the heart blood flow within the smallest blood vessels supplying the heart muscle. It can also provide an accurate assess