Nuclear cardiology has experienced exponential growth within the past four decades with converging capacity to diagnose and influence management of a variety of cardiovascular diseases. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) with technetium-99m radiotracers or thallium-201 has dominated the field; however new hardware and software designs that optimize image quality with reduced radiation exposure are fuelling a resurgence of interest at the preclinical and clinical levels to expand beyond MPI. Other imaging modalities including positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) continue to emerge as powerful players with an expanded capacity to diagnose a variety of cardiac conditions. At the forefront of this resurgence is the development of novel target vectors based on an enhanced understanding of the underlying pathophysiological process in the subcellular domain. Molecular imaging with novel radiopharmaceuticals engineered to target a specific subcellular process has the capacity to improve diagnostic accuracy and deliver enhanced prognostic information to alter management. This paper, while not comprehensive, will review the recent advancements in radiotracer development for SPECT and PET MPI, autonomic dysfunction, apoptosis, atherosclerotic plaques, metabolism, and viability. The relevant radiochemistry and preclinical and clinical development in addition to molecular imaging with emerging modalities such as cardiac MRI and PET-MR will be discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Immunology and Microbiology