The Alberta Mazankowski Heart Institute

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by jnicol
Last updated 7 years ago

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The Alberta Mazankowski Heart Institute

The Alberta Mazankowski Heart Institute Finds An Improved Approach To Cardiac Imaging

A group at the Mazankowski Heart Institute finds that using PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans help to better understand heart disease.

What is a PET Scan and How Does it Work?

A positron emission tomography scan uses radioactive drugs (tracers) to show the metabolism of cancerous tissues compared to healthy tissues by looking at their use of glucose. PET scans can be used with CT images to provide a more accurate, objective photo. They are very effective at even finding the smallest tumor, or blockage of its kind in the world. Positron emission tomography scans are done in hospitals around the world or specially designed PET scan centers, even at our very own St. Joseph's Hospital. PET scans are painless and only take 40-120 minutes to complete. The tracer that is injected into you is harmless. Except on rare occasion of being extremely allergic, and do not have a scan when pregnant. It could expose the unborn baby to radiation. After, a radiologist will examine the results, and then send them to your doctor to discuss the next steps for your treatment. The positron emission tomography scan can be used to diagnose and prevent cancers, heart disease and brain disorders. The cost of scanning is covered by OHIP making it fair and equitable for all Canadian citizens.

Dr. Gordon Brownell invented the PET scan in Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1950's.

One of the ways the Institute is using the PET scans is to diagnose heart disease. Heart disease is a combination of cardiac problems that affects the structure and function of the heart. For example coronary artery disease develops when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries stopping the supply of oxygenated blood to the actual heart itself. If your heart cannot get oxygen to contract, many problems throughout the body occur. Like Pericarditis, Kawasaki disease, Cardiomyopathy, and many more.

The Edmonton team is injecting the radioactive material rubidium as a tracer for PET scans. This is proving to be more effective and have less side effects then an isotope of technetium, in a study conducted by the Ottawa Heart Institute. It also has showed to accelerate the procedure time from being up to two hours to a mere forty minutes. Dr. Lucille Lalonde said "It is a way to assess how much blood supply is getting through to various areas of the heart." The new procedure is set to be a part of the standard practice around Canada next year.

Watch from 1:55-2:02 to see PET scan images.

This shows active metabolism tissue in the heart


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