Helping Patients Feel Comfortable During a Cardiac PET Scan

For first-time patients experiencing a cardiac PET scan, they feel a little nervous about the process and what to expect along the way. Patients who aren’t familiar with cardiac PET scans may need a little bit of extra attention to feel comfortable during the scan.

Explain the Minimal Risks

Cardiac PET imaging is a safe process for most people, and there is a minimal amount of radiation exposure during the scan due to the short half-life of Rubidium-82. We let patients know that the small amount of radiation in their system will be eliminated through the kidneys in just over 6 minutes after the exam.

Keep Them Comfortable

Physical comfort is another factor to consider during a patient’s cardiac PET scan. We keep several simple leg and arm cushions at the ready to provide important back support for our patients and make them feel more at ease.

The right lighting and ventilation can play a role in keeping your patients comfortable and even relaxed throughout the scan. We recommended keeping a blanket nearby in the case that a patient is cold.

Encourage Them to Ask Questions

The unknown, lingering questions about what is happening during the scan can make patients feel uneasy. Encourage them to ask any questions that come to mind to help them gain peace of mind. 

An open conversation will help put a patient at ease and encourage them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or nervous.

Contact Us with More Questions

The right approach can make all of the difference in making your patients feel comfortable and relaxed during their cardiac PET scan. If you have more questions or if you want to learn more, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

The Dangers of Physician Radiation Exposure During Catheterizations

Over 17 million fluoroscopy-guided interventional procedures occur every year. While these procedures are overall beneficial and help provide research on cognitive function, health effects, cancer, and reproductive effects, there is an increasing concern about radiation exposure that occurs during these appointments.

Cardiology teams are specifically experiencing the effects of scatter radiation as there has been an increase in the sheer number of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) in the past few years. While the benefits of increasing technology undoubtedly help patients through shorter recovery times and fewer complications, the internal teams are suffering from radiation exposure.

What Are the Side Effects?

Interventional cardiologists are exposed to roughly 2,500-10,000 chest X-rays during their career, however, this exposure has a significant impact on the brain. The human brain is subject to higher-intensity exposure, meaning that the brain is exposed to the equivalent of 50,000 chest X-rays for these workers. The specific health impacts of this exposure includes malignant brain tumors, cancer, reduced cognitive function, cataracts, and more. Premature vascular disease is also a potential side effect.

Reducing Exposure

Thankfully, there are methods to reduce radiation exposure. Leaded aprons and personal protection equipment are beneficial, but they also can cause strain on the musculoskeletal system. ALARA, or as low as achievably possible, is another guiding principle to help keep exposure to a minimum. This is something that you can expect during each and every appointment with our team.

The best way to reduce radiation exposure is to spend less time in the cath lab performing diagnostic or unnecessary caths. Cardiac PET has proven effective at preventing caths because of the high quality images available for a patient diagnosis. If you’re interested in learning more about our cardiac PET imaging services, please reach out to us at Cardiac Imaging, Inc.!

Long-Term Effects of High Radiation Exposure to Patients and Staff

Did you know that people are exposed to radiation sources on a daily basis? Natural radiation sources such as naturally occurring radioactive materials found in soil, water and air can have an impact on health. On the other hand, man-made radiation exists as well, with medical devices, including X-ray machines, as the largest source of man-made radiation. 

Internal Exposure

The internal exposure of radiation particles occurs when a radionuclide is ingested, inhaled or enters the bloodstream in some way. This exposure stops when the radionuclide is expelled from the body via treatment or naturally. During our cardiac PET scans, there is no internal exposure to radiation. 

External Exposure

External exposure is another means of incurring radionuclides, and this is especially the case in certain medical procedures. X-rays are considered a planned exposure, as radiation is utilized for the diagnosis of patients. Keep in mind that the medical use of radiation accounts for roughly 98 percent of the population dose contribution from all artificial sources. Over 3600 million diagnostic radiology exams are performed on an annual basis. 

What Are the Long-Term Impacts?

With exposure to radiation comes long-term risks. Depending on the dosage of radiation, potential side effects include tissue or organ damage, hair loss, skin redness, radiation burns and acute radiation syndrome. Long-term exposure that lasts years or even decades can result in the development of certain types of cancer. 

Thanks to the implementation of ALARA, all of our cardiac PET scans are designed to minimize exposure to patients to help them reduce the side effects of the scan. We also double the distance between the patient’s body and the machine to help reduce exposure. Rest assured that our team at Cardiac Imaging, Inc. has put together a thoughtful, meaningful protocol to keep exposure as low as possible. 

Why PET Will Surpass SPECT in the Future

When it comes to imaging technology in the next 3-5 years, PET technology will solidify itself as the go-to source for molecular imaging over other technologies. While both PET, or positron emission tomography, and SPECT, or single photon emission computed tomography, are great options with their own pros and cons, PET is a faster exam, exposes patients to less radiation, and is a more cost-effective solution when one considers downstream procedures. Read more about the comparison between the two below. 

Breaking Down the Technology

PET scan cardiology images are known for their high-quality images, as the resolution is inherently better than that of SPECT technology. Generally speaking, PET scans offer resolutions of 5-7mm while SPECT images have a resolution of 12-15mm. In fact, research shows that as many as one in 10 scans that appear as “normal” on SPECT technology would show up as “abnormal” on PET technology. This false negative statistic is seemingly small but it packs a punch, nodding to the fact that misdiagnosis occurs far less often on a PET machine. 

You may be wondering about the different processes that PET and SPECT scans use in order to produce results. The main difference between the two boils down to the type of radiotracers that are used. SPECT scans utilize gamma rays while PET scans utilize radiopharmaceuticals, producing small particles referred to as positrons. These positrons help create images of internal organs and lead to more accurate results. 

Looking Ahead

The future of PET scan cardiology is bright and our team is thrilled to be a part of it! The next generation of cardiac PET agents will be even more promising as they are hoping to address unmet clinical needs. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our services or what we can do to help, please get in touch with us today.

COVID-19 & Patient Safety

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has undoubtedly taken the world by storm. Our team at Cardiac Imaging, Inc. wants you to know that our operations continue as usual with some additional precautions. In fact, not only are we an essential provider, but our business model is perfectly designed to minimize human contact while simultaneously providing the care that our patients need. 

Here are some precautions that we are taking during this time:

  • A separate and self-contained mobile coach is an ideal environment in which to perform stress tests.
  • Our mobile units receive frequent deep cleanings and our clinical staff sanitizes all equipment and frequently touched surfaces between each patient.
  • Patients may wait in their vehicles and check-in directly with Cardiac Imaging staff so there is no interaction with the practice.
  • Cardiac PET scans take a total of 45 minutes to complete compared to a SPECT stress test that can take 3-4 hours. This minimizes patient exposure to staff and other patients while onsite.
  • We have extended our patient schedule so that there is no overlap of patients on the coach, whereas SPECT patients must have a dedicated waiting space or must return a second day for the rest/stress protocol to reduce interaction and exposure.
  • Third-party SPECT providers must bring equipment and staff into the practice, resulting in potential exposure to staff and patients.

There’s nothing we take more seriously than the safety of our staff, patients, and our community. We review all updates to the CDC’s guidelines to ensure we practice the most effective sanitary protocols while we continue with cardiac PET scans. If you have further questions about the measures that we are taking or if you want to schedule services with us, please get in touch with our team today.

The Leading Cardiovascular Diseases

Taking care of your heart is one of the most important tasks in life. A strong, healthy heart is pivotal to avoiding the development of cardiovascular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, as nearly 610,000 people die every year. As providers of the gold standard pet scan technology, our team at Mobile Cardiac Imaging, Inc. wants to take note of the leading cardiovascular diseases. 

Heart Disease

Heart disease revolves around atherosclerosis, a condition that results from plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries. This condition narrows the arteries and forces your heart to work harder to push blood through. In the case that a blood clot forms, the result will be a blood clot or a stroke. Specific examples of heart disease include heart failure, congenital heart disease, mitral regurgitation, myocardial infarction, dilated cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease. 

Heart Attack

In the case that a blood clot cuts off blood flow to part of the heart, a heart attack will likely occur. When this occurs, that portion of your heart begins to die because of the lack of blood flow. While many people ultimately survive their first heart attack, it’s a warning sign that changes need to be implemented including eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help you repair any damage that was caused. 

Stroke

The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke and it occurs when a blood clot (or another type of blockage) blocks a blood vessel from traveling to the brain. When the blood supply is cut off, your brain cells will start to die, potentially resulting in a loss of functionality in areas such as walking or talking. The damage may be temporary if the cells don’t die, and the damaged cells can repair themselves over time.

Our Mobile PET Scan Technology Can Help

The aforementioned diseases are only a handful of examples. Hearts are vital organs that can, unfortunately, experience many problems and complications if they’re not properly cared for. If your medical practice is dedicated to providing the gold standard when it comes to mobile cardiac PET scanning, get in touch with us to see how we can help you with your diagnostic needs.

The Importance of ALARA & Minimizing Radiation Exposure

Those who undergo cardiac PET imaging may be worried about the level of radiation exposure that will take place during their imaging test. Rest assured that there is an ALARA principle in place for minimizing radiation exposure, which stands for As Low As Reasonably Achievable, to help limit the dosages of radiation exposure. This is a best practice in addition to being predicated on legal doses that are in place for all radiation safety programs. 

Why Does This Practice Exist?

Concerns revolving around radiation safety have existed for quite some time, as there’s an assumption that every radiation dose, regardless of its magnitude, can produce some level of harmful effects. For example, radiation exposure may result in an increased risk of genetic mutations or cancer. Because of ALARA, practical and cost-effective measures can help provide patients with peace of mind that everything possible is being done to keep them safe and healthy. 

The Implementation of ALARA

As providers of cardiac PET imaging, our staff is committed to providing an effective ALARA program for all of our patients. We implement the following safety principles to help make ALARA as effective as possible. 

  • We aim to minimize the time spent exposed to radiation
  • We double the distance between the patient’s body and the source of radiation to ultimately reduce exposure by a factor of 4. 
  • We utilize absorber materials to reduce the exposure of beta particles and gamma rays. 

We’re here to help make your process as safe as possible from the beginning to the end! Feel free to contact us with any further questions or concerns that you have.

How Can Cardiac Imaging Help You And Your Patients?

Cardiac imaging has become more and more advanced in recent years. Mobile PET imaging and MRI scans can give cardiologists and medical professionals greater insight into how to treat particular heart conditions. These imaging machines can also detect potential concerns early on and help you determine a quick course of action. 

 

Detect Potential Issues or Concerns

When concerns arise about a patient’s heart health, getting a cardiac imaging test may address unhealthy regions. Our mobile PET imaging machine uses a radioactive tracer injection to help the PET scanner produce a series of clear images of the heart and its vessels. It can show healthy or damaged muscles, arteries, and veins, which can help you assess and understand any issues. Noticing a potential area of disease or damage in the heart early on with cardiac imaging could help you save your patient’s life. 

 

Diagnose Diseases and Pinpoint Damage

Similar to imaging done on other areas of the body, cardiac imaging can be utilized to diagnose and spot areas of disease. A common cardiac imaging process is our mobile PET imaging technology. PET scanners can give doctors a detailed image of the heart and help to pinpoint areas of damage. If a patient has undergone a heart attack, our mobile PET scan can distinguish the areas that were affected during the episode. 
 
We can help you make PET imaging more comfortable and efficient for your patients. Make sure everyone’s hearts are pumping at their best ability and contact Cardiac Imaging, Inc. today for more information.

What Are Radiotracers and How Do They Work?

During cardiac PET scans, radiotracers are used to detect tumors or regions of inflammation. Radiotracers are molecules that are linked to a small amount of radioactive material that can be detected on the PET scan for cardiology

 

PET Radiotracers & Cardiac Imaging, Inc.

PET radiotracers must have a high specificity to a molecular target and should have low non-specific uptake in other tissues. Cardiac Imaging, Inc. uses a radiotracer called Rb-82, or Rubidium-82. The use of Rb-82 in PET imaging produces higher diagnostic accuracy, lower radiation exposure, and quicker exam times compared to the use of Tc-99m in SPECT imaging.

 

How It Works

A radiotracer is injected, swallowed, or inhaled and then eventually accumulates in the area of the body under examination. A special camera or imaging device is used during this process and will detect the radioactive emissions from the radiotracer. If an abnormal cell is active, it can absorb glucose at a higher rate and therefore be seen on PET scans, allowing your doctor to identify any diseases before it may be seen on other imaging tests.  

 

Benefits of Nuclear Medicine

Radiotracers are a part of nuclear medicine that have been used in PET cardiac scans for years. Some of the benefits of radiotracers are seen in the common uses of nuclear medicine, including:

  • Evaluating treatment options such as bypass heart surgery and angioplasty
  • Assessing the damage to the heart after a heart attack
  • Visualizing heart blood flow and function

 

You’re In Safe Hands with Cardiac Imaging, Inc.

A PET scan in cardiology will help evaluate the heart health by measuring the blood flow brought by the coronary arteries to the heart muscle with the help of radiotracers. If you want to learn more today, contact us at (800) 998-2035 and we will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

What’s The Difference Between PET and SPECT Scans?

With the advanced medical technology available to us today, there are many possible methods to take images of our bodies. Two of the most effective cardiac scans—cardiac PET imaging and SPECT scans—use very similar processes to analyze the internal functions of our bodies. It is easy to get them confused, so here are some of the differences between cardiac PET scans and cardiac SPECT scans.

 

PET Scans Can Provide More Detail

Although both PET and SPECT scans use radioactive substances in order to show how your organs are functioning, PET scans allow for even more detail. With cardiac PET imaging, doctors can analyze and quantify your heart’s blood flow, which is crucial when looking for signs of heart disease.

 

PET and SPECT Scans Use Different Radiotracers

PET and SPECT scans use radiopharmaceuticals to create 3D images, but the tracers used are differently. SPECT scans measure gamma rays, and the radiotracers used with PET scans produce small particles called positrons. The detectors in the PET scanner measure these photos to create images of internal organs.

 

PET Scan Images are Clearer

PET scan images are generally reported to offer a higher resolution of 5 to 7 mm, compared with a cardiac SPECT scan resolution of 12 to 15 mm. With a higher resolution, radiologists can detect changes to the heart’s blood flow at a granular level.

 

If you want to learn more about the benefits of PET scans, contact Cardiac Imaging, Inc. today at (800) 998-2035 and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.