PET Scan Proven Most Accurate Type of Imaging for Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease

Positron emission tomography, or PET scans, have been proven to be the most accurate imaging modality for spotting cases of coronary artery disease.

A study published in August 2017 in JAMA Cardiology compared the performance of coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA), single-photon emission tomography (SPECT), and PET scan in detecting heart disease. A total of 208 patients with new, consistent chest pain received these tests. Two weeks later they all underwent invasive coronary angiography. Then researchers took measurements of all their coronary arteries.

The study showed that PET scans were the most accurate in regards to diagnosing coronary issues. Researchers also concluded that there’s no benefit to using hybrid diagnosing methods (multiple types of scans, for instance). Multiple scan methods did not increase the accuracy of any diagnosis. Besides, the practice exposes patients to extra and unnecessary radiation.

Explaining PET Scans

PET scans use radiation to identify chemical activity in your body, on a cellular level. They use a radioactive dye to create specific images of organs. Radiologists can use these images to determine how well organs are functioning. This enables them to efficiently diagnose many cancers, brain disorders, and cases of heart disease.

Before the PET scan begins, technologists inject a radiotracer into the body. The radiotracer attaches to a natural compound in the body, such as glucose. Cells use glucose for energy, so any cells that need extra energy will pull in more of the radiotracer and show up as “hot” spots on the scan. Areas of the body with little glucose/radiotracer are labeled as “cold” spots and identify what organs or tissues may be damaged or not working correctly.

Cancerous cells require a lot of glucose and will show up as a “hot” spot on a scan, whereas damaged heart tissue that is scarred or not working properly will show up as a “cold” spot. Heart disease can be identified this way. In fact, a PET scan is the most accurate, non-invasive imaging test for diagnosing heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in America. It accounts for 1 in 3 deaths, claiming 800,000 lives each year. Thankfully, we have medical tests that can help identify and lead to the treatment of this disease.

What Patients Should Know About PET Scans Before Making an Appointment

A PET scan is typically an outpatient procedure. Do not exercise 24 hours or eat 4-6 hours before the scan, but be sure to drink plenty of water. Your last meal before a scan should be high in protein and low in carbohydrates and sugar (this can affect the reading of the scan). Some patients may need to avoid any caffeine 24 hours before the scan too.

When you arrive, staff will inject the radiotracer into a vein, which takes about 60-90 minutes to start working. Then you will lie on your back on a platform and inserted into the scanning tube. The whole test takes about 20-40 minutes, during which you must stay completely still.

Once the test is finished, be sure to drink water to flush the radiotracer from your blood, but no other restrictions are needed. If you experience any symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, pain/numbness or weakness in your limbs, extreme fatigue, or pain in your jaw, neck, throat or upper abdomen, see a healthcare professional for scheduling a scan.

To book your next PET scan, or any other imaging modality, contact at 888-322-7785 today.