THMG Specialties

The doctors at Texas Heart Medical Group are experts in their fields. Our specialties are broad and comprehensive, covering every aspect of heart health from prevention to surgical treatment.

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Cardiac PET Scan

A cardiac positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a diagnostic test that allows doctors to see how your heart and its tissues are functioning at a cellular level. Cardiac PET scans are useful for diagnosing conditions like coronary artery blockage, the level of damage caused by a heart attack, and other heart issues. The test typically takes less than 4 hours and is done as an outpatient procedure. It is very safe.

What happens during a PET scan?

  1. Heart monitor leads will be adhered to your chest, and a small amount of radiotracer (radioactive material) will be injected into your arm. The radiation amount is minimal and very rarely causes an allergic reaction.
  2. You will then lie down on a narrow exam table that will move through a large tunnel (the PET scanner). You must lie still, so that the images will be clear.
  3. The radiotracer deposits in your organs and tissues, which allows the PET scanner to detect the energy it emits and produce 3D images. It takes 45 minutes to 1 hour for the radiotracer to move throughout your body.
  4. The 3D images will show the amount blood flow reaching different areas of your heart and show any scarring caused by previous heart attacks.
  5. A nuclear cardiologist will review the results with you and forward them to your doctor.
  6. Drinking lots of fluid after your scan will help flush the radiotracer out of your system.

What should I do before taking a PET scan?

  • You must fast before the test: 12 hours beforehand, you may drink water but no caffeinated beverages; 4–6 hours before the test, you must not eat or drink.
  • If you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor about food and insulin needs, because fasting before your scan can affect your blood sugar levels.
  • Talk to your doctor ahead of time about all medications you are taking. You should especially avoid taking any theophylline-containing medications for at least 48 hours before your scan. Always bring a medicine list with you so your physician can advise you.
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing, as the radiation could be harmful to your baby or nursing infant.