A Positron Emission Tomography scan, or PET scan, is a nuclear medicine imaging technique that uses small amounts of a radioactive tracer to detect disease or injury. PET Myocardial Perfusion Imaging is a non-invasive diagnostic test that shows how well blood flows to your heart muscle tissue.
The tracer is injected into a vein in your arm and travels to your heart. Additionally, a medication that mimics the effects of exercise on blood vessels is often used to help detect disease or injury.
A PET machine has specialized cameras that detect the radioactive tracer. Through this process, images of the heart are created at rest and after medication is given.
Areas of the heart receiving adequate blood flow will appear bright, and the shape of the heart will be easy to see. Areas with reduced or no blood flow will appear darker, relative to healthy tissue, and the shape of the heart will be harder to see. These differences can indicate areas affected by coronary artery disease or previous damage to your heart.
Because the PET scanner uses Computed Tomography, also known as a “CT” or “CAT” scan, often coronary artery calcium, or “CAC”, will be measured, or “scored”, as part of the PET test. The CAC scan can detect calcium inside your heart’s coronary blood vessel walls as an indication of the amount of coronary artery disease.
The information from a PET scan helps your physician choose an appropriate treatment. Ask your healthcare team for more details.
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