PET/CT is an advanced stress test for studying the heart. The test provides your doctor with pictures of your heart while it's resting and while it has increased blood flow, which is called "stress." Your doctor then compares the pictures to learn more about your heart's blood supply.
While stress testing itself is not new, the use of PET/CT to study the heart is. CardioVascular Associates is the only location in Birmingham offering this particular test to diagnose heart disease. The test is offered at our Montclair location.
PET/CT combines two of the most advanced imaging technologies available to check the health of the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Clinical studies have shown that PET/CT scans are more accurate than similar stress tests that are widely used to diagnose heart conditions. The test works by taking detailed pictures or images of a small amount of "tracer" that is injected into the bloodstream. The PET camera detects the tracer as it flows through the arteries to create images of the heart. A medication is used to increase the blood flow through the heart ("stress") and these images are compared to those taken before blood flow is increased.
The PET/CT unit at CardioVascular Associates combines the accuracy of a PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography) with a special CT scanner (Computed Tomography). The CT scan accounts for each person's specific body type, increasing both the speed and accuracy of the test.
PET/CT is a "noninvasive" test, meaning no surgery or opening of the body is required. The test takes about two hours to complete from check-in to check-out.
Only a doctor can decide if PET/CT is the right test for a particular patient.