PET Myocardial Perfusion Imaging

Photo of a computerized PET scan

Purpose

Positron emission tomography (PET) myocardial perfusion imaging studies show how well blood flows to the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). The test uses a radioactive tracer (either rubidium-82 or ammonia N-13) that travels through the bloodstream and is taken up by heart tissue. The PET machine then takes pictures of where the tracer is located in the heart to show how well blood flows through the heart muscle.

Two sets of images are taken during PET myocardial perfusion imaging, one at rest and one during stress, when the heart is working hardest. The stress is caused by injection of a drug called Persantine (dipyridamole), which mimics the effect of exercise on the heart.

Description

  1. A nuclear technologist or nurse will discuss the test with you. You will be asked to sign a Registry Consent Form, which will allow the department to keep an electronic record of the test in a secure database.
  2. An intravenous (small plastic tube) will be inserted into a vein in your arm.
  3. Electrocardiogram (ECG) electrodes and leads will be placed on your chest to monitor the heart.
  4. Your blood pressure is checked.
  5. A small amount of radioactive material (rubidium-82) will be given through the intravenous.
  6. You will be asked to lie still on your back in the PET machine. The machine will take pictures of the heart for 25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Prior to the stress test, a stress technologist or nurse will discuss the stress portion of the test with you. You will be asked to sign a Stress Test Consent Form. Please read it carefully and do not hesitate to ask any questions to the staff. It is important that you understand the entire procedure before it begins.
  8. You will receive an injection of Persantine over a period of five minutes to stress the heart.
  9. A small amount of radioactive material (rubidium-82 or ammonia N-13) will be given again.
  10. You will lie still on your back in the PET machine. The machine will take pictures of the heart for another 25 to 30 minutes. Blood pressure and heart rhythm will be monitored during the imaging.
  11. An injection of a drug called aminophylline will be given. This drug reverses the effect of the Persantine on the heart. You may feel tingling in the face after the aminophylline injection.
  12. The entire test is completed in about two hours.
  13. The nuclear technologist will process the study, and a physician will read the test. The report will be sent to your doctor.

Patient Instructions

Prior to taking the test, patients should download, print, and read the diet and medication instructions (pdf).

Patients with diabetes or asthma should check with their doctor for special instructions before the test...