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UT Southwestern Medical Center offers advanced cardiac positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to evaluate cardiovascular health. 

Our heart and nuclear medicine experts use PET scanning to assess the heart’s blood supply, evaluate coronary artery disease, differentiate between functional and nonfunctional heart tissue, and diagnose cardiac sarcoid.

Advanced Imaging to Evaluate the Heart

Positron emission tomography (PET) is an advanced nuclear imaging study in which the patient is injected with a radioactive material and scanned with a special camera that produces images from the positrons that are emitted. 

A cardiac PET scan is a cardiovascular imaging study used to create images of the heart. Different colors on a PET image represent different types of heart tissue and functions.

UT Southwestern’s experienced cardiologists and nuclear medicine physicians use cardiac PET scans testing to carefully diagnose and guide the treatment of a variety of heart rhythm disorders, such as:

What to Expect

Pre-Cardiac PET Scan Details

Prior to the cardiac PET scan, the PET center technologist or physician gives specific instructions to the patient and discusses issues such as diet, fasting, and medication use.

Cardiac PET Scan Details

A technician takes the patient to a special room, where blood glucose is measured and a sweet beverage is given to drink. Blood glucose is periodically tested; when it reaches the correct level, the radioactive substance is given to the patient intravenously. After the patient has rested quietly for 60 minutes while the substance accumulates in the body tissue, the scan begins.

The PET machine looks like a large doughnut, and the table on which the patient lies moves up and down the center hole to acquire the images. 

Some patients undergo a double cardiac PET scan, in which the first scan is done without a stress test and the second one is done with a stress test. 

Post-Cardiac PET Scan Details

Patients are done once the cardiac PET scan is complete. There are usually no restrictions to daily activities. Patients should drink plenty of fluids to wash out the radioactive substance. It generally takes a few days for the scan results to be interpreted.

Support Services

UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease. 

Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.

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Search for opportunities to participate in a heart or vascular research study.

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