Cardiac PET imaging for the detection and monitoring of coronary artery disease and microvascular health

Thomas H. Schindler, Heinrich R. Schelbert, Alessandra Quercioli, Vasken Dilsizian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

309 Scopus citations


Positron emission tomography (PET) myocardial perfusion imaging in concert with tracer-kinetic modeling affords the assessment of regional myocardial blood flow (MBF) of the left ventricle in absolute terms (milliliters per gram per minute). Assessment of MBF both at rest and during various forms of vasomotor stress provides insight into early and subclinical abnormalities in coronary arterial vascular function and/or structure, noninvasively. The noninvasive evaluation and quantification of MBF and myocardial flow reserve (MFR) extend the scope of conventional myocardial perfusion imaging from detection of end-stage, advanced, and flow-limiting, epicardial coronary artery disease (CAD) to early stages of atherosclerosis or microvascular dysfunction. Recent studies have shown that impaired hyperemic MBF or MFR with PET, with or without accompanying CAD, is predictive of increased relative risk of death or progression of heart failure. Quantitative approaches that measure MBF with PET identify multivessel CAD and offer the opportunity to monitor responses to lifestyle and/or risk factor modification and to therapeutic interventions. Whether improvement or normalization of hyperemic MBF and/or the MFR will translate to improvement in long-term cardiovascular outcome remains clinically untested. In the meantime, absolute measures of MBF with PET can be used as a surrogate marker for coronary vascular health, and to monitor therapeutic interventions. Although the assessment of myocardial perfusion with PET has become an indispensable tool in cardiac research, it remains underutilized in clinical practice. Individualized, image-guided cardiovascular therapy may likely change this paradigm in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-640
Number of pages18
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • cardiovascular disease prevention
  • coronary artery disease
  • coronary circulation
  • endothelium y microcirculation
  • myocardial blood flow
  • myocardial flow reserve
  • positron emission tomography


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