Cardiac PET/CT

At Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, our Cardiac PET/CT scanner makes it easier for patients to get faster and better diagnostics. The only cardiac PET/CT scanner north of Portland, patients now have close access to more advanced technology, experience less radiation exposure, and receive faster, more accurate results.

What is a cardiac PET exam?

A cardiac Positron Emission Tomography (PET) exam is used to evaluate the health of your heart by measuring the blood flow that it receives. The results of this exam will help your doctor determine if you should have follow-up treatment. If you are already being treated for a heart- related condition, the results of this exam can also be used to help your doctor manage your treatment.

How is the procedure performed?
  • Trained medical personnel will be with you throughout the exam.
  • You will be asked questions about your medical history.
  • An IV line will be placed in a vein in your arm to allow administration of medication during the exam.
  • Small pads called electrodes will be placed on your chest so that the medical team can monitor the electrical activity of your heart throughout the study.
  • You will be asked to lie on a scanning table made especially for the PET camera.
  • A small amount of a radiopharmaceutical will be given through your IV line that will allow the PET camera to take pictures of your heart. The amount of radiation exposure you receive is considered safe by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.
  • A PET camera will take pictures of your heart in two phases: a resting phase and a stress phase. The order in which these phases occur will be determined by the supervising doctor.
  • These phases are then compared to allow for the assessment of blood flow through your heart and/or to look for prior damage to the heart muscle.

How long will it take?
Most cardiac PET exams are completed in less than one hour; however, a longer exam should not be cause for concern.

Ask your doctor for specific details about how long you should plan to be present for your exam.

What can I expect from the stress portion of the procedure?
The stress phase of the exam is usually performed with a medication that makes your heart respond as if IAC Sealyou were exercising. This medication is given in your vein through an IV line while an electrocardiogram (ECG) is performed to monitor your heart.

It is important to let the healthcare provider know if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, or a flushing feeling during the test.
How do I find out the results of my exam?
A doctor trained in the interpretation of cardiac PET/CT exams will review the pictures of your heart and send a report to the doctor who requested the exam. That doctor will then follow up with you to discuss your results.

How should I prepare for the procedure?
You should ask your doctor and follow his/her advice about directions regarding your preparation for
the exam. Here are a few general guidelines:
  • You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for a period of time before your test.
  • You may be asked not to have any caffeine products for at least 12-24 hours before your exam.
  • You may be asked not to take certain medications before the exam.
  • You will be asked if you have any allergies. Please be prepared to discuss this with the supervising doctor.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and leave your jewelry at home.
  • Bring a list of all your medications with you to the exam.

It is very important that you check with your doctor BEFORE discontinuing any medications.

PET Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) with positron emission tomography (PET) is indicated for the diagnosis of patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) and risk stratification of patients with known CAD, when they are unable to exercise, have a left bundle branch block pattern, paced rhythm on electrocardiogram (ECG), or an equivocal single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) MPI. PET MPI is also indicated for the detection of the co-presence of CAD and for the assessment of resting myocardial perfusion in patients undergoing the assessment of myocardial viability with F-18 Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET.

Follow the links below to learn more about how Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s PET/CT scanner can benefit your patients.

Cardiac PET/CT Quick Reference Guide

Practice Points

Additional resources from American Society of Nuclear Cardiology

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