What is cardiac PET CT?

This extremely effective imaging tool can diagnose cardiac disease with greater certainty and lower radiation exposure than traditional stress testing. And it's the gold standard for diagnosing coronary heart disease.

A cardiac PET CT exam provides accuracy, excellent quality and the ability to detect disease before symptoms are present. Doctors use this exam to evaluate the health of your heart by measuring the blood flow it receives. The results of this exam determine if treatment is needed or can help inform your doctor on the effectiveness of your current treatment.

What to expect from a cardiac PET CT

Most cardiac PET CT exams take less than one hour, though it sometimes takes longer. Before a scan, you'll receive instructions to help you successfully prepare for your scan. This includes having no caffeine for 24 hours before your test and avoiding food four hours before your test.

When you arrive, our team will ask questions about your medical history, including all medications you are taking.

During your cardiac PET CT scan, most of your body will be outside of the scanner; this is not a full body scan like an MRI. If you're claustrophobic, please take your medication 30-minutes before your scan.

Trained medical personnel will be with you throughout your exam. You'll first be asked to lie down on a scanning table made especially for the PET CT camera. Medication will be administered through and IV line in a vein in your arm, as well as a small amount of radio pharmaceutical. This lets the PET CT camera capture pictures of your heart in two phases, a resting and stress phase.

Small pads called electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor the electrical activity of your heart throughout the study. Your blood pressure, heart rate and electrocardiogram are monitored before, during and after the test.

In most cases, you may leave as soon as your scan is complete. You'll be able to eat, drink and return to your normal daily activities immediately.

Our physicians—who have specific expertise in cardiac stress testing and imaging—will receive a report detailing the findings of your scan. We'll follow up with you in the upcoming days with your scan results.

Benefits of a cardiac PET CT

Cardiac PET CT scans are safe and effective diagnostic imaging tests. The tracer used is not a dye or contrast, which causes minimal radiation exposure and enables a far shorter test. 

Heart care at Main Line Health

Our specialists provide the latest technological advancements with expertise and compassion—working to find the best possible treatment while prioritizing your comfort and peace of mind throughout the care journey. When receiving care at Main Line Health, you'll be treated by the region's most trusted team of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons in one of the top-performing cardiovascular programs.

At Main Line Health, you'll have access to:

  • Excellence in cardiological care—including treatment for serious cardiovascular issues, at locations that are close to home and easy to access.
  • Physicians near you—who provide a full range of general and specialized cardiology services, from minimally invasive to more complex surgical treatments.
  • Main Line Health's Philadelphia area hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—offer comprehensive cardiology services to meet your needs and those of your family. Our healthcare experts are uniquely qualified to address cardiological concerns.