There are several diagnostic tests available to cardiologists to diagnose and treat heart disease. Each has its own distinct uses and benefits in monitoring heart health. Among those quickly growing in popularity is the cardiac positron emission tomography (PET-CT) scan. Used to evaluate a wide range of heart symptoms and conditions, PET-CT scans offer superior image quality and higher diagnostic accuracy than many alternatives.
WHAT IS A CARDIAC PET-CT SCAN?
Generally speaking, PET-CT scans are imaging tests that can give doctors insight into the function and structure of your body’s tissues and organs. These tests are performed using a special dye which contains radioactive tracers. Once this dye has been administered, the patient will lay on a table which slides into a Scanner. This machine will scan the area of concern and pick up signals from the tracers. Computers will then produce a series of images from these signals which can be used to create a three-dimensional map of the heart.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A CARDIAC PET-CT SCAN?
The are several benefits of a cardiac PET-CT scan compared to other stress tests such as Thallium or Technetium Stress Test. Greatest benefits are
- Detect early signs of atherosclerosis
- Ability to measure blood flow between the coronary arteries
- Lower radiation exposure compared to Thallium or Technetium Stress Test
- Faster imaging with ability to obtain full study in approximately 1 hour.
- Less artifacts (false studies) especially in patients who are overweight
- Higher resolution and clarity, improving overall diagnostic accuracy
WHO SHOULD GET A CARDIAC PET-CT SCAN?
There are many patients who may benefit from a cardiac PET scan for a variety of reasons. The main uses for the test include:
- Screening for cardiovascular disease among those who are symptomatic or who have associated risk factors such as family history or high cholesterol.
- To monitor the condition of the heart and the success of treatment in those who have been previously diagnosed with CAD.
- To further evaluate previously detected blockages and determine a patient’s candidacy for coronary stents or bypass surgery.
- To determine the extent of tissue damage and scarring following a heart attack and identify the most appropriate treatment method.
- To detect early signs of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup)
WHAT ARE THE DRAW BACKS OF CARDIAC PET-CT SCAN?
Fortunately, cardiac PET-CT scans are safe for most patients. The procedure requires no downtime and is performed in an outpatient setting. The exposure to radiation is minimal; however, patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be encouraged to get a different type of test, using no radiation.
Despite its effectiveness and high level of diagnostic accuracy, the cardiac PET-CT scan is not readily available to most patients. Brookhaven Heart is pleased to make this service available to Patchogue and neighboring communities. To learn more about this test and if it may be beneficial to you, contact Brookhaven Heart, and request a consultation with any one of our board certified cardiologists.