Cardiac Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

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Using Cardiac Positron Emission Tomography, or Cardiac PET, doctors can see new levels of detail and spot heart problems early when viewing your heart and blood flow.

The Cardiac PET can: 

  • Check your blood flow and find blockages that might not be seen using traditional tests
  • Get a clear picture of the shape of your heart and view any lasting damage from earlier cardiac issues

This cardiac imaging technology is an important tool we can now use to make sure you're getting the best possible treatment for your heart.

How Cardiac PET Works

A radioactive solution called a tracer is first inserted into your blood. The material is safe and has only a small amount of radioactivity. There is a low risk of complication.

  • With the tracer in your bloodstream, the PET machine takes images of your heart to give the best possible view of blood flows and potential heart damage.
  • The radioactive material has a half-life of just 10 minutes, which means the material will quickly pass through your system.

What To Expect With Your PET Imaging

  • If you're referred for a PET scan and make an appointment, you should allow about 90 minutes for the entire procedure, even though the scan itself lasts about 45 minutes. In the extra time, your doctor or technician will give you your IV and talk to you about the scan.
  • When you arrive, your PET doctor or technician will remind you to leave any personal belongings outside of the room and have you change into a hospital gown.
  • Your PET doctor or technician will place an IV in your arm and place small EKG pads on your chest. 
  • You'll be asked to lie flat on a scanner bed, and your doctor or technician will bring you into the large round opening of the PET machine. 
  • During the procedure your doctor or technician will release the medication into your body and take a number of pictures of your heart.
  • You'll be able to speak to your PET specialist at all times during the scan.

Who Should Get a PET Scan?

For most patients, traditional heart imaging methods will be enough. 

Patients who may need a PET scan include patients with:

  • Diabetes 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Obesity 
  • Unclear previous heart tests


Check with your insurance company to see if they cover Cardiac PET scans. If they don't or you're not sure, let us know and we'll work with your provider.