Nuclear Cardiology (SPECT & PET)
A single photo emission computer tomography (SPECT) and cardiac positron emission tomography (PET) scan uses radioactive tracers to produce images of the heart. While SPECT scans measure gamma rays, the decay of the radiotracers used with PET scans produce small particles called positrons. Also, SPECT tracers generally last longer in the patient.
Patients are given a radioactive tracer intravenously (inserted in the blood stream). The tracers are detected by the imaging machine to provide three-dimensional images of the heart.
A cardiac SPECT and PET scan can be used to:
- Identify abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmia)
- Monitor the performance of heart valves
- Measure the size of the heart and thickness of heart walls and valves
- Gauge the ability of the heart to properly pump blood
- Identify other diseases present
- Spot blood clots
- Identify congenital heart defects
- Monitor the performance of implanted cardiac devices