PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is an advanced noninvasive
method of studying the heart that makes use of drugs that emit
positrons. Positrons are electrical particles with a positive
The PET center at Mount Sinai offers two
types of cardiac PET studies. One test (Rb-82) is a stress test
that measures blood circulation in the arteries of the heart.
The second (F-18 FDG) is used to assess heart muscle functioning
following a previous injury, such as a heart attack. The F-18
FDG study is performed if weakening in the overall function of
the heart has been detected by another test, such as the Rb-82
test (see General Procedure section).
PET stress tests with Rb-82 are used to
check the health of the coronary arteries for functionally significant
obstructions (narrowing), which can reduce blood flow to heart
muscle and lead to the heart muscle becoming "starved"
of oxygen. This condition is called coronary artery disease. Symptoms
can include chest pain and shortness of breath. With coronary
artery disease there is an increase in the possibility of a myocardial
infarction (heart attack). PET cardiac scans with Rb-82 are more
accurate than other cardiac stress tests such as Thallium-201
SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) in the detection
of heart disease and provide enhanced quantification.
Because of this increase in accuracy, invasive
catheterizations can often be avoided in those patients who do
not need it.
Knowing about these obstructions can help
the physician decide the best course of further diagnostic tests
and treatment, such as catheterization, when necessary.