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Nuclear Medicine

What Is It?

  • A non-invasive method of determining if you have significant coronary artery disease (i.e. atherosclerotic plaque in your heart). The exam is commonly known as a Nuclear Stress Test.
  • The nuclear medicine camera (SPECT) will take pictures of your heart after you get an injection of medicine (radiotracer) that will specifically go to your heart and allows us to see how well your heart is functioning. We will take images of your heart at rest and after a stress test which will be done either through running on a treadmill or with a special medication that will make your body think it is exercising.

How Do I Prepare?

    • Take all medication as your normally would unless told otherwise.
    • Do not eat or drink anything caffeinated or decaffeinated for at least 24 hours before the procedure. This includes products containing chocolate. Caffeine can interfere with the ability to perform the stress test.
    • Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours prior to your exam. A small snack of fruit, toast with jelly, crackers and water is acceptable for the morning of your exam.

How Is It Done?

  • Our nurse will place an intravenous (IV) line in your arm and inject the radiotracer in your arm.
  • You will wait in the waiting area while the medication is absorbed by your heart (20-45 minutes)
  • Our technologist will place you on the nuclear medicine table and will start taking pictures (15 minutes)
  • We will perform a stress test (either with a treadmill or with the injection of a medication to make your body think it is exercising by causing the blood vessels in your heart to open up more). We will constantly monitor you during this exam to make sure you are safe and comfortable. This portion may take up to 2 hours.
  • After your stress test, you will get another injection of radiotracer and wait in the waiting area and take a final set of pictures on the nuclear medicine camera.
  • TOTAL EXAM DURATION: 4 hours (some patients may require the exam to be split up over two days)

What Happens Next?

  • Results from your exam will be available to you within a few business days and oftentimes on the same day.
  • The exam will show if you have any reduced blood flow to your heart (i.e. ischemia).
  • Your healthcare provider will contact you if they need to make any changes to your medications or if you need further testing. Types of additional testing may include a Coronary CT Angiogram or Advanced Nuclear Stress Test or Cardiac Catherization.

Additional Information: