In positron emission tomography Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Positron emission tomography (PET) is a type of radionuclide scanning. A radionuclide is a radioactive form of an element, which means it is an unstable atom that becomes more stable by releasing... read more (PET), a substance necessary for heart cell function (such as oxygen or sugar) is labeled with a radioactive substance (radionuclide) that gives off positrons (electrons with a positive charge). The labeled nutrient is injected into a vein and reaches the heart in a few minutes. A sensor detects the positrons and uses them to create a picture of the body part being studied.
PET is used to determine how much blood is reaching different parts of the heart muscle and how different parts of the heart muscle process (metabolize) various substances. For example, when labeled sugar is injected, doctors can determine which parts of the heart muscle have an inadequate blood supply because those parts use more sugar than normal.
PET scans produce clearer images than do other radionuclide procedures Radionuclide Imaging of the Heart In radionuclide imaging, a tiny amount of a radioactive substance (radionuclide), called a tracer, is injected into a vein. The amount of radiation the person receives from the radionuclide... read more and can be used for stress testing Stress Testing Stressing the heart (by exercise or by use of stimulant drugs to make the heart beat faster and more forcibly) can help identify coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, blood flow... read more . However, the procedure is expensive and not as widely available as single-photon emission computed tomography. It is used in research and in cases in which simpler, less expensive procedures are inconclusive.