Cardiac PET-CT

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Integrated positron emission tomography computed tomography (PET/CT) scanners allow a true integration of the structure and function of the heart. Myocardial perfusion PET provides a high sensitivity (91%) and specificity (89%) for the diagnosis of obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). But, as with single photon emission CT, relative perfusion PET often uncovers only the territory subtended by the most severe coronary stenosis, leading to underestimation of the extent of CAD. In contrast, quantitative PET provides a noninvasive assessment of myocardial blood flow and coronary flow reserve and improves detection of preclinical and multivessel coronary atherosclerosis. Similarly, CT coronary angiography is an accurate means to image the entire continuum of anatomic coronary atherosclerosis from nonobstructive to obstructive CAD. However, not all coronary stenoses are hemodynamically significant and <50% of the patients with obstructive CAD on CT angiography demonstrate stress induced perfusion defects. Stress PET data complement the anatomic information on the CT angiogram by providing instant readings about the ischemic burden of coronary stenoses. Thus, combined PET/CT may be potentially superior to CT angiography alone for the guiding revascularization decisions. Further, fusion of the PET and CT angiogram images allows identification of the culprit stenosis in patients presenting with chest pain. Finally, the advances in molecular imaging and image fusion may soon make noninvasive detection of vulnerable coronary plaques a clinical reality. In summary, integrated PET/CT is a powerful new noninvasive modality that offers the potential for refined diagnosis and management of the entire spectrum of coronary atherosclerosis.

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