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Nuclear cardiology is an advanced cardiac imaging technique that uses a low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan combined with nuclear images. Images are created by injecting a radioactive tracer that localizes to your heart muscle. Together, they create highly detailed 2D and 3D views of the heart.
We are one of the first facilities in the country to have a dedicated nuclear cardiology laboratory. Our highly skilled clinical experts use nuclear cardiology to assess heart function and the condition of your cardiovascular system.
Our doctors use nuclear cardiology if we suspect you have coronary artery disease, or if previous tests did not specify the cause of your symptoms.
The most common nuclear cardiology procedure is the nuclear stress test, which provides an assessment of heart function and coronary blood flow to your heart — while at rest and when active. A radioactive tracer is injected into your blood stream and images show areas of low blood flow through your heart, which can help diagnose and guide your treatment.
How a Nuclear Cardiology Test Is Performed
In preparation for a nuclear cardiology test, your doctor may ask you to fast or temporarily stop certain medications. For the tests to be as accurate as possible, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions prior to the stress test.
During the procedure, the cardiac stress technician attaches electrodes to your chest, legs and arms. These electrodes connect to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine. The technician will then ask you to walk on a treadmill, during which he or she will slowly increase the incline or resistance to reach a target heart rate. If you can’t exercise on a treadmill, we will give you medicine that stimulates your heart in a way similar to exercise.
When your heart rate reaches a set target for exercise, the technologist will inject a radioactive tracer. He or she will then use a gamma camera — a special camera similar to a CT machine — to take images of your heart during and after stress.
After reviewing your stress images, the technologist may take another set of images of your heart while it at rest. The doctor then compares the images of your heart during exercise and at rest.