P.E.T. (Positron Emission Tomography) is one of the newest, most advanced methods for physicians to study the heart. Hagerstown Heart is the first in the Hagerstown area to offer this state-of-the-art technology.
P.E.T. scans are non-invasive and painless. They unveil the functioning of organs and tissues, while other imaging techniques (e.g., x-ray, MRI, and CT scans) only show structure. These studies can reveal the health of the vessels supplying blood to the heart, heart muscle and surrounding tissue. With P.E.T. imaging, physicians can evaluate areas of the heart muscle that are not receiving adequate blood flow due to blockages in the arteries, detect coronary heart disease, assess tissue scarring due to a heart attack, and determine if bypass surgery or angioplasty will benefit a damaged part of the heart.
How it works: Rubidium-82, a radioactive tracer that is injected into the patient’s arm. The blood stream carries the tracer to the heart muscle which produces an image of the blood flow in the heart. A special P.E.T. camera detects the emitted positrons and constructs a picture of the heart.
What you should expect: Your test should take about 45 minutes to perform. Your medical history and medications will be reviewed and a consent form will be signed. Before the study begins, you will be asked to lie still on the P.E.T. imaging table. The table will be positioned into the scanner and a quick scan will be obtained to ensure the patient’s heart is positioned properly in the P.E.T. camera’s field of view. An intravenous line (IV) will be placed in your arm or hand to administer the pharmacologic agent and tracer. Electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart throughout the procedure. You will lie on a bed and the bed will begin to pass slowly through the P.E.T. scanner.
A nuclear tracer will be administered intravenously in your arm or hand. You will receive an injection of a pharmacologic drug that increases blood flow through the normal arteries. However, the blood flow will not be increased in arteries that are blocked or in tissue that is damaged. The differences in blood flow are detected by the P.E.T. scanner, which creates a picture of the blood flow to the heart tissue.
- P.E.T. scans can detect over 95% of people who have significant blockages of coronary arteries and produce reliably normal results in over 95% of people with no heart disease.
- P.E.T. scans rarely produce “false positives” (test results showing heart disease where none exists). Therefore, they are often used to confirm other tests when a false positive is suspected.
- The radiation you are exposed to during a P.E.T. scan is roughly equivalent to that of a kidney x-ray.
- Most people are candidates for P.E.T. scans. However, pregnant women, nursing mothers and people who have recently suffered stroke usually cannot have P.E.T. scans.