Medical terminology can be confusing, and this is no less true for cardiac patients. Facing health issues is an overwhelming experience, so it’s important to ensure that you can your family understand the tests, procedures, and recommendations that you’ll be getting from your cardiologist.
To begin with, what is a cardiac P.E.T. Scan? The P.E.T. Scan (Positron Emission Tomography) is a nuclear test which allows doctors to see an image if your heart. Nuclear imaging refers to any test where the patient is given radioactive tracers either intravenously, orally, or by inhalation. In a cardiac P.E.T. Scan, the tracers are injected and then absorbed into the bloodstream until they make their way into the muscle of the heart.

The patient lies on the table very still as the tracers make their way into the heart muscle. At this point, the radioactive material or gamma rays are detectable by a gamma detector and create a clear picture of your heart that your cardiologist can use to assess your heart health. Now that we’ve identified how this test works, here are a few questions and answers that we hear frequently.

Is This Test Safe?
The idea of pumping radioactive material into your body doesn’t sound great for a lot of people. The amount of radioactive material injected into your body is so small that it has completely dissipated within 3-4 hours of your test. In order to speed the process of flushing the tracers out, your cardiologist may recommend that you drink a lot of water after your P.E.T. Scan.

Why Did My Cardiologist Order This Test For Me?
All of these diagnostic tests can be confusing to patients, and we often hear this question. One big way in which these two tests differ is that the radioactive tracers used in the P.E.T. allow doctors to see what is happening in the heart tissue at a cellular level. This means that damage and disease can be caught as they are beginning to change the structure of the heart muscle.

How Does A P.E.T. Differ From CT?
We know now that a cardiac P.E.T. Scan can see how well your heart tissue is functioning. The CT Scans, on the other hand, are considered anatomic imaging tests meaning that the cardiologist can only tell things like the size and location of organs but no information about the health of the tissue itself.

With all of the acronyms and scientific terminology involved in your cardiac care, it can be hard to get a grasp of each new test, what it does, and why you need it. The P.E.T. Scan is a perfectly safe and very commonly used diagnostic test that allows your cardiologist to have a better look at your heart’s tissue and determine the best course of action to maintain or improve your heart health. If you have more questions about this test or believe you should be under cardiac care, contact us today.