The Weatherhead PET Imaging Center

PET and the Heart

Why do a PET scan?

Since its diagnostic accuracy is much higher than standard tests at comparable cost per study, PET reduces expense and risk by avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures, thereby providing more efficient diagnoses. PET can be an alternative to invasive tests such as cardiac catheterization, in which a thin tube is threaded to the coronary arteries through an artery in the leg and X-ray pictures are taken after dye is injected into the heart. Even after an angiogram, PET can determine when a blockage is significant and a stent or coronary bypass surgery is necessary or whether medical management might be a better option.

There are 4 main reasons to have a cardiac PET scan:

  1. To be screened for early heart disease in patients who have no symptoms or have chest discomfort and have high cholesterol levels or a strong family history of heart disease.
  2. To check on the status of the coronary arteries in patients who have known coronary artery disease or who want to check on the progress of reversal treatment or other interventions (every 3-5 years or sooner if new symptoms develop).
  3. To determine the need for a coronary stent or coronary bypass surgery when blockages are found on an angiogram.
  4. To check on the viability of the heart muscle. If a large amount of heart tissue is scarred because of a heart attack, the heart will not pump well. The amount of damage and percentage of the heart affected will help doctors determine appropriate treatment including whether or not bypass surgery will be helpful.