Cardiac Nuclear Imaging
A nuclear stress test is one of the best ways to diagnose heart disease. The basic technique requires injection of radioactive particles (called radionuclide) into the bloodstream. These particles circulate through the blood and are detected by a special camera. When your Cardiologist looks at the images like those below, he can see how well the heart "glows" while beating. If there are areas that do not light up as well as others, this maybe a sign of low blood flow or ischemia. A coronary angiogram is the only method available today to confirm if the ischemia is truly present, which is often necessary after an abnormal nuclear stress test result.
At Memorial Katy Cardiology Associates, we continue to upgrade our facilities and improve our services to provide our patients with the best care available today. With this mindset, we have recently added Cardiac PET to our arsenal of tests.
Cardiac PET provides us with images that are more clear than a standard SPECT (traditional nuclear stress test) so we can see even better how well your heart functions both at rest and under stress. This allows us to better diagnose your heart disease so we can prescribe the absolute best treatment possible. The medication we use is also kept on site, so we no longer have issues of drug shortages, which were a significant problem in 2010 nationwide. This test is even more advantageous than a SPECT for larger patients (or patients with large breasts) because the PET camera can detect the radioactive particles better through thicker tissue. Start to finish, this test usually takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour, much shorter than a SPECT.
We are the first office in Harris County outside of the Texas Medical Center to obtain a Cardiac PET camera. There are slighly more than 100 Cardiac PET cameras in the United States. Of the nation's top 10 ranked hospitals, all 10 have a Cardiac PET camera. Click here to see this list. Download the PET instructions document.
Cardiac SPECT has been the workhorse of Cardiology for decades. It is a very proven technology that is effective in diagnosing heart disease in many patients. There are shortfalls with this technology that have been improved upon over the years, however the relatively lower cost and substantial history behind this test have kept this technology at the front of many Cardiologists’ diagnostic regimen. The basic technology is similar to that of a PET scan, but the scanner itself looks different and the isotope used is different. The test will take 3 to 4 hours to complete because of the time it takes for the isotope to work and the resting period necessary between scans.