Hattiesburg Clinic uses a new way to view blockage in arteries

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -   A number of cardiac patients in the Pine Belt endure many tests and scans to monitor their hearts. The Hattiesburg Clinic, has a new and more efficient method for testing and the best thing about it, it's done in an outpatient setting.

Heart disease remains the number one killer in men and women of almost every ethnicity. The upside side to that is, the advanced technology healthcare providers use to detect it early on.

Dr. Tom Messer, a Cardiologist with the Hattiesburg Clinic said, "Significant strides have been made in reducing that.  So, even though it is number one, it is not number one by as much as it used to be."

Messer said the latest way he identifies heart disease early on, and accurately in his patients is by using what's called a cardiac PET-CT.

This fairly new, non-invasive stress test provides him with a much clearer picture of what's going on inside each patient.

"Those of us who are a little heavy get a better study with PET, than with traditional nuclear imaging."

Messer said traditional nuclear imaging emits a single particle, where as, a PET image emits a double particle that hits the camera at 180 degrees to better localize where the particle came from and creates improved image quality.

"It's a liquid radioactive isotope that comes off of a generator, goes into the blood stream, goes to the muscle, through the artery," said Nuclear Cardiology Technician Jamie Branch. "If an artery is blocked during a stress portion, we give another injection of isotope, and if it is blocked, it will not get to the muscle and we can see that on our images."

It's all done in an outpatient setting, which Branch, said takes about 30 minutes to complete.

He also said this procedure exposes patients to a much lower amount of radiation.

"It is a higher energy radiation, but it is less radiation because the other  isotopes that we give can stay in the system for a much longer period of time. This one has only a 90 second half life, so it goes into the system, you take pictures and then it's gone."

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