Heart nuclear medicine scan; Heart positron emission tomography; Myocardial PET scan
A heart positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to look for disease or poor blood flow in the heart.
A heart PET scan can tell your doctor whether areas of your heart muscle are receiving enough blood, if there is heart damage, or scar tissue in the heart.
A PET scan requires a small amount of radioactive material (tracer). This tracer is given through a vein (IV), usually on the inside of your elbow. It travels through your blood and collects in organs and tissues, including your heart. The tracer helps the radiologist see certain areas or diseases more clearly.
You will need to wait nearby as the tracer is absorbed by your body. This usually takes about 1 hour.
Then, you will lie on a narrow table, which slides into a large tunnel-shaped scanner. Electrodes for an electrocardiogram (ECG) will be placed on your chest. The PET scanner detects signals from the tracer. A computer changes the results into 3-D pictures. The images are displayed on a monitor for your doctor to read.
You must lie still during the PET scan so that the machine can produce clear images of your heart.
The test takes about 90 minutes.
You may be asked not to eat anything for 4 - 6 hours before the scan. You will be able to drink water.
Tell your health care provider if:
Always tell your health care provider about the medicines you are taking, including those bought without a prescription. Sometimes, medications may interfere with the test results.
You may feel a sharp sting when the needle containing the tracer is placed into your vein.
A PET scan causes no pain. The table may be hard or cold, but you can request a blanket or pillow.
An intercom in the room allows you to speak to someone at any time.
There is no recovery time, unless you were given a medicine to relax.
A heart PET scan can reveal the size, shape, position, and some function of the heart.
It is most often used when other tests, such as echocardiogram (ECG) and cardiac stress tests do not provide enough information.
This test can be used to diagnose heart problems and show areas in which there is poor blood flow to the heart.
Several PET scans may be taken over time to determine how well you are responding to treatment for heart disease.
Lalonde L, Ziadi MC, Beanlands R. Cardiac positron emission tomography: current clinical practice. Cardiol Clin. 2009 May;27(2):237-55.
Udelson JE, Dilsizian V, Bonow RO. Nuclear cardiology. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP. Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 16.
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