Cardiac positron emission tomography (PET) is a nuclear imaging test that uses radioactive tracers to produce detailed pictures of the heart. PET scans are typically used to look for poor blood flow in the heart, to assess damage due to heart attack, or to diagnose coronary artery disease. A PET scan is also commonly used to clarify unclear findings from other heart tests, such as echocardiography or stress test. Unlike MRI and CT, a PET scan gives more information about how organs and tissues are working.

What can a patient expect during a cardiac PET?

The technician will begin by inserting an IV into the patient’s arm, through which a special dye with radioactive tracers is injected into the veins. Electrodes for an electrocardiogram (ECG) will be places on the chest to monitor the heart rate. Once the tracers are absorbed through the body (about one hour) the patient will be asked to lie very still on a table that glides slowly into the machine where the pictures will be taken.

Once the need for a cardiac MRI, PET/CT, or CTA has been determined by a requesting clinician, pre-authorization is required from the patient's health insurance company. Upon receiving pre-authorization from the health insurance company, please contact the ACIP directly.