Cardiac PET/CT Scans

Modern Heart and Vascular Institute

Cardiovascular Specialist & Board Certified Cardiologist located in Humble, TX, Katy, TX & Cleveland, TX

A cardiac positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a nuclear imaging test that creates detailed 3D images of the heart. These exams can provide more accurate and efficient images with less radiation than other types of nuclear stress tests.

ct scanner at modern heart and vascular institute

What Is a Cardiac PET/CT Scan?

A cardiac PET/CT scan is a minimally invasive scan of the heart used for detecting, diagnosing and monitoring a wide range of heart conditions. If you’re experiencing symptoms of heart problems and other tests haven’t provided enough information, your doctor might order a cardiac PET scan to learn more about the issue. PET scans use a specialized dye known as a tracer, which contains a small amount of radiation, to detect areas of low blood flow or damage in your heart.

How a Cardiac PET/CT Scan Works

The cardiac PET scan is typically an outpatient procedure. At Modern Heart and Vascular, it will last about 45 minutes. Your doctor will provide instructions about how to prepare, including information about when to stop eating or drinking before your test and how to take your medications.

At the start of the process, the technologist will insert an IV for the tracer and attach electrodes to monitor your heart rate throughout the test. Once the tracer has been injected, you’ll wait for your body to absorb the dye before moving onto the imaging stage.

After a few minutes, you’ll lie flat and still on a narrow table attached to the PET machine. This machine will take thin scans of your heart from several angles, allowing for the clearest possible picture. The radioactive tracers will show which parts of the heart receive enough blood and which areas don’t. Your doctor can use these pictures to learn a lot about your heart’s condition.

how a heart scan works

Purposes of a Cardiac PET/CT Scan 

There are many reasons a cardiologist would order a PET scan. PET/CT scans for cardiology create 3D images of the heart, concentrating on diseased or injured areas. These pictures allow your doctor to differentiate between types of damage, whether caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure, a heart attack or something else. Identifying and diagnosing specific conditions gives you a significant advantage concerning treatment and further care.

These scans also enable your doctor to monitor and evaluate progress over time, so they can see how well a certain treatment is working or what changes are occurring within your heart.

Cardiac PET Scan vs. Echocardiogram

While cardiac PET scans and echocardiograms both study the heart, they are very different exams. Echocardiograms use high-frequency sound waves instead of radioactive tracers. Echos create less detailed images. Your doctor might recommend a PET scan after an echo to provide more information about your condition.

Cardiac PET vs. CT Scans

Patients often wonder about the difference between cardiac PET and CT scans. CT scans are non-invasive and use X-rays, while PET scans are minimally invasive procedures requiring an injection of radioactive dye. Unlike 3D PET scans that monitor the processes in your heart, CT scans create 2D images of structures, like blood vessels, bones and soft tissue.

Consult With Our Cardiologists Today

Figuring out if you need a PET/CT scan can be straightforward with the right resources. At Modern Heart and Vascular, you can speak with a cardiologist to determine if this is the right test for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.