Although currently in limited supply due to the location proximity needed for conventional cyclotrons, 13N-ammonia is well understood and recognized as a gold standard for cardiac perfusion imaging. It is used at prominent cardiac programs at Mayo Clinic, Brigham & Women’s, Massachusetts General, UCLA, and the University of Texas.


13N-ammonia imaging offers many advantages over the dominant 99mTc-SPECT radiopharmaceutical, as well as another cardiac PET tracer, 82Rb-chloride. The table below highlights the differences between 13N-ammonia and 82Rb-chloride.

Tracer Comparison

13N-ammonia, due to the low mean positron length associated before the proton annihilates, has been shown to provide clearer images potentially allowing for an improved diagnostic certainty. The following PET scan images is an example 13N-ammonia compared to 82Rb-chloride.

Physical properties 13N-ammonia 82Rb-chloride
Half life (min) 9.97 1.27
Positron decay 100% 95.5%
Positron energy (MeV) 1.19 95.5%
Positron range (mm) 0.57 2.60
System Resolution (mm) 6.03-6.15 6.54-8.56
Effective radiation dose per study (msv) 1.5 3.8
Raw material Sterile O-16 water and methane gas Sr-82/Sr-85
Supplied Unit Dose Generator
Physiological properties 13N-ammonia Rest flow 82Rb-chloride
Physiology Diffusible/retained Extracted/retained
Rest Stress Rest Stress
Extraction fraction 0.98 0.93 0.70 0.40
Retention fraction 0.87-0.97 0.56-0.65 0.47-0.55 0.27-0.28

Tracer Comparison Patient Images

Abnormal 13N-ammonia PET from a patient with a 90% right coronary artery stenosis

Abnormal 82Rb PET from a patient with a 90% Proximal left anterior descending artery stenosis

Rest / Stress Protocol – CFR

Protocols for 13N-ammonia imaging can be as efficient as 82Rb-chloride if a low dose / high dose protocol is used.

Rest scan
Pharmaceutical stress
Stress scan
0 min
30 min
  • 1 min CT
  • Rest 9 mCi
    13N ammonia
    3 min
  • 2.5 min
    scan (CFR)
  • 5 min
    gated rest
    emission scan
  • Stress
  • Stress 20 mCi 13N
    21 min
  • 2.5 min
    scan (CFR)
  • 5 min
    gated stress
    emission scan
  • 1 min CT


The longer half-life of 13N-ammonia can allow for patients to be treadmill exercised as an alternative to pharmacologic stress. This provides additional imaging options for your cardiac PET program.

Recent studies utilizing treadmill 13N-ammonia stress testing have demonstrated:

  • Reliable diagnostic accuracy and image quality in obese and non-obese patients. 1
  • Annual event rate is consistent with previously published SPECT and PET data. 2
  • Produces larger, more severe defects compared to dipyridamole stress. 3

References & Articles


  1. Aggarwal NR, Drozdova A, Askew JW, Kemp BJ, Chareonthaitawee P. Feasibility and diagnostic accuracy of exercise treadmill nitrogen-13 ammonia PET myocardial perfusion imaging of obese patients. Journal of Nuclear Cardiology. 2015 Dec 1;22(6):1273-80.
  2. Chow BJ, Al Shammeri OM, Beanlands RS, Chen L, DaSilva J, Ruddy TD. Prognostic value of treadmill exercise and dobutamine stress positron emission tomography. Canadian Journal of Cardiology. 2009 Jul 1;25(7):e220-4.
  3. Chow BJ, Beanlands RS, Lee A, DaSilva JN, Alkahtani A, Ruddy TD. Treadmill exercise produces larger perfusion defects than dipyridamole stress N-13 ammonia positron emission tomography. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2006 Jan 17;47(2):411-6.


  1. 13N-ammonia as an Indicator of Myocardial Blood Flow
  2. Positron Emission Tomography ( 13N-ammonia) for Myocardial Perfusion
  3. Radiation Dose to Patients from Cardiac Diagnostic Imaging
  4. Recommendations for Reducing Radiation Exposure in Myocardial Perfusion Imaging


Learn more about our small but mighty cyclotron that can make a big impact in some of the tightest spaces.


We’re confident that our cardiac PET partnership 13N-ammonia program and/or 18F solution will help grow your practice or service line. We look forward to hearing from you.

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