Nuclear Cardiology involves studying tissue function with nuclear medicine aids in the diagnosis of many kinds of diseases, tumors, infection and other disorders in the brain, heart, lungs, bone, bowel, kidneys, thyroids and other internal structures. Nuclear cardiology focuses on imaging the heart to locate or diagnose problems with the heart. Scans may be performed in conjunction with other types of imaging (CT, MRI, X-ray) or with stress tests to determine the cause of unexplained chest pain.
A nuclear stress test is similar to an exercise stress test but combines elements of a nuclear imaging exam to provide more accurate results than a standard exercise electrocardiogram.
A typical stress test involves the patient exercising on a treadmill while electrodes attached to the body record the heart’s response to physical activity. This is done through an electrocardiogram (EKG). During a nuclear stress test, a radioactive substance is injected into the bloodstream. A special scanner is used to detect this substance and capture images of the heart muscle as the patient exercises.
This test is performed in your doctor’s office. Patients are asked to not eat or drink anything for four to six hours before the exam. A nuclear stress test may be effective in determining the cause of chest pain, checking the prognosis of patients after a heart attack and determining the effectiveness of previous procedures.