Cardiac PET Scan Procedure

A cardiac PET scan, or positron emission tomography, is an imaging study that detects radiation from positron emission to recreate images of the heart.

For the test, you’ll be given a radioactive substance that emits positrons. Different colors on a PET image represent different tissues and organ function.

This study can be used to detect cancer in the body, determine heart blood supply to assess coronary artery disease, and to differentiate between functional and nonfunctional heart tissue in cases where a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) or angioplasty may be needed. It’s also used to assess brain function for certain memory disorders.  

Pre-Cardiac Pet Scan Details

Your UT Southwestern Medical Center physician will give specific instructions before the cardiac PET scan.

You should not eat after midnight before the study. Allergies will be discussed, as you will receive an injection of a radioactive substance. Medication use will be discussed with your physician prior to the study.  

Cardiac PET Scan Details

A technician will take you to an injection room, where the radioactive substance is given through an IV.

You’ll wait 60 to 90 minutes for the substance to accumulate in the body’s tissue. During this time, you will rest quietly. The scanning begins after this rest period.

The machine looks like a large doughnut and the table you lie on will move up and down the center hole to acquire the images. In some cases, you may undergo a double scan in which the first scan is without a stress test and the second test is with a stress test.

Post-Cardiac PET Scan Details

Once the cardiac PET scan is complete, you’ll be done with the study. There are usually no restrictions to daily activities and you should drink plenty of fluids to wash out the radioactive substance. It generally takes a few days for the results to be interpreted.

Request an Appointment

To schedule a cardiac PET scan at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.