Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s Cardiac PET Scanner First in the Region
Positron Emission Tomography is rapidly becoming a major imaging diagnostic tool for cardiovascular disease. The PET/CT scan is used in two ways: First, it can detect areas of reduced blood flow in the heart from narrowed arteries. Second, it can differentiate between heart muscle that is scar tissue and heart muscle that is damaged but may still benefit from intervention with medications or other procedures.
PET is different from MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT because it measures the metabolic process or chemistry of the tissues in and around the heart, as opposed to simply “seeing” the structure of the heart. PET images the function of the heart muscle rather than the structure of the heart.
A radiopharmaceutical or radioactive tracer is injected, via an IV, and the gamma ray emissions of the tracer are measured by the PET scanner’s array of detectors. A CT scan is then superimposed on the data to correct for common sources of artifact such as breast implants, obesity, or lung disease. A computer analyzes the data and presents it in images that can be interpreted by the cardiovascular imaging specialist. The data gives images of blood flow and information about the pump function of the heart both at rest and during stress.