Heart PET Scan

Henry Ford offers the most advanced heart PET scan techniques available, which are used to assess heart function and blood flow.

Cardiovascular conditions are complex, and an accurate diagnosis is key. One important tool that may help to diagnose certain conditions is a heart PET scan. If you have been referred for this scan, you likely have many questions.

What is a heart PET scan?

  • Heart positron emission tomography (PET) testing is a minimally invasive nuclear imaging technique that studies blood flow and identifies blockages in coronary arteries.
  • It uses a special drug that increases blood supply to your heart. This is used to detect scar tissue or other damage.
  • A radioactive tracer dye is injected into your arm and taken up by your heart muscle in different amounts based on how well the tissue is functioning. This translates to different colors and levels of brightness on the scan.
  • A special scanning machine is used to create several detailed images of your heart. These individual images, or “slices” are combined by a computer into a 3-D picture of your heart.
  • A heart PET scan offers superior imaging quality, including the ability to rule out soft tissue structures around the heart, such as the lungs, which can distort the image.
  • Our team of specialists has worked to make sure the testing process is as streamlined as possible, given that you may be understandably nervous. Our team will prepare, assess and monitor you throughout the process.

Why do I need one?

Your cardiology team may order a heart PET scan for several reasons:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD): The most common type of heart disease, this refers to a narrowed or blocked heart artery. This blockage is often related to a process known as atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque, a waxy substance made up of cholesterol and other materials. A heart PET may be used to determine if CAD is present and how extensive it is. Given that this test may help detect early atherosclerosis, if you have certain risk factors your physician may order a scan even if you have no symptoms.
  • After a heart attack: To evaluate damage to the heart muscle, including scarring. In select cases, we may use a special isotope of radioactive glucose (sugar) to detect living heart muscle.
  • Heart procedures: A heart PET scan gives a detailed picture of blood flow through the heart’s arteries. It also identifies both damaged and living heart muscle. As a result, this test can help determine if you would benefit from a heart procedure to help restore blood flow and preserve healthy heart muscle. These procedures may include a minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedure such as angioplasty, stenting or chronic total occlusion percutaneous coronary intervention (CTO PCI), or coronary artery bypass surgery.
  • Treatment progress: If you are already being treated for heart disease, your physician may order a heart PET scan to monitor the effectiveness of your treatment.
  • Unusual diseases: This test also helps detect and follow treatment for rare diseases that can affect the heart, such as sarcoidosis.

Given the variety of heart imaging tests that are available, and the fact that there can be more than one test available for some conditions, you may be confused on what you need. In addition, your physician may order a different test to help clarify the results of a previous one.

As part of your personalized treatment plan, your Henry Ford cardiology team will explain why they are recommending the specific test or tests for your condition, explain how each one works and answer any of your questions.

The Henry Ford difference

  • Expertise: Our specialists include fellowship-trained cardiology and radiology specialists representing all testing types, American College of Radiology (ACR) certified technologists and certified exercise physiologists, and cardiology testing trained nurses.
  • Latest technology: We offer a state-of-the-art imaging technology center, ensuring that we can offer the best imaging option available that meets your specific needs.
  • A focus on safety: Patient safety is our primary goal. We use exclusive protocols that are customized for you, and which are designed to exceed national and manufacturer’s standards.
  • Fast results: Available within approximately 24 hours.
  • Range of treatments: An accurate diagnosis is only the first step. We also offer the full spectrum of advanced treatment options for all heart and vascular conditions, including rare diseases.

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