Cardiac PET (Positron Emission Tomography)
A cardiac PET scan is the most accurate, non-invasive nuclear imaging test of the heart. A normal cardiac PET scan has a high predictive value that a person will be free of a life threatening heart attack within one year of taking the test (99.6%). It correctly identifies approximately 95% of patients with significant coronary artery blockages and patients with non-hemodynamically significant coronary artery blockages (current nuclear stress tests boast approximately 76% correct identification).
It uses radioactive tracers, called radionuclides, to produce pictures of your heart. It can diagnose coronary artery disease or heart damage from a heart attack and can accurately predict which patient will benefit from coronary stenting or coronary artery bypass grafting before undergoing the procedure.
There are approximately 160 cardiac PET centers worldwide and only 30 centers using advanced software measuring myocardial blood flow reserve. This allows us to determine if someone has a disease involving the small vessels and micro vessels in the heart.
A huge benefit is reduced radiation exposure from the test with a half-life of the radioactive tracer, called rubidium, of only 76 seconds. It is reimbursed by Medicare and private insurances based on appropriate diagnosis. The study lasts approximately 30 minutes from start to finish and does not use treadmill exercise.
The stress phase of the exam is usually performed with a pharmaceutical that makes your heart respond as if you are exercising. This pharmaceutical is given in your vein through an IV line while an electrocardiogram (ECG) is performed to monitor your heart. The results of your test will be sent to the doctor who asked you to have the exam.
Cardiac SPECT (Myoview/Cardiolite)
A cardiac SPECT scan is a nuclear stress that uses radioactive tracers to produce pictures of your heart. These tracers are different than those used in cardiac PET. The test is used either with a stress chemical or used with a patient walking on a treadmill. It is the most commonly performed nuclear stress test and provides images that can show areas of low blood flow and areas of damaged heart muscle.
It is used to diagnose coronary artery disease, look at the size and function of the heart, and guide treatment. The test takes approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours to complete. The results of your test will be sent to the doctor who asked you to have the exam.
Regular Exercise Stress Test
A regular exercise stress test is painless, non-invasive, and requires no needles. This test measures electrical changes to your heart during stress-like exercise. It helps diagnose coronary artery disease and possible exercise-induced arrhythmias.
FDG Viability Study
An FDG (f-18 labeled fluorodeoxyglucose) study is a viability study. This helps determine if someone with a weakened heart or scar tissue has heart muscle that may be alive. This is important for doctors to know when treating patients. It can help an interventional cardiologist decide if a stent will benefit a patient.
It can also help an electrophysiologist determine if additional testing is necessary before implanting a defibrillator. It can also help a cardiac surgeon determine if restoring blood flow to heart muscle will actually benefit a patient. The test may take up to 3 hours and will require giving a patient a glucose (sugar) bolus and may require giving a patient insulin. A patient must be fasting prior to the procedure for at least 6 hours.
An MUGA scan (multi-gated acquisition scan) is a nuclear medicine test used to evaluate the function of the right and left ventricles. It uses radioactive materials called tracers to show the heart chambers. Determining one's heart function is an important way to guide medical therapy, as well as evaluating the need for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator.
An echocardiogram (also called Echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of sound as they bounce off different parts of the heart. The echoes are turned into moving pictures. It is used to look for the cause of murmurs (abnormal heart sounds) by visualizing heart valves. It can also evaluate the thickness of your heart, the size and shape of the chambers of the heart, and the ability of your heart chambers to pump blood. It also looks for blood clots and tumors inside the heart.
A carotid Doppler test is used to detect narrowing of the arteries in the neck (the carotid arteries) that supply blood to the brain. The arteries are visualized using sound waves (ultrasound) for evidence of plaque (blockages).