Nuclear Stress Test Imaging
Nuclear stress test imaging is a series of cardiac imaging studies conducted at rest and after exercise using the same principles as a basic exercise stress test but resulting in significantly more information. It uses a radioactive tracer and an imaging camera to create pictures that show the blood flow to your heart muscle while you are at rest and exercising, revealing areas in your heart with poor blood flow or damage.
Tests are conducted in two phases: a resting image of the heart with a nuclear isotope and the exercise portion with additional isotopes. Resting images are usually obtained approximately 30 – 45 minutes after injection to allow for maximal uptake of the isotope. The resting phase can take place before or after the exercise portion of the test.
Physicians order nuclear stress tests to determine if the blood flow to the heart muscle is normal or abnormal. The radiopharmaceutical injections demonstrate areas of the heart muscle with abnormal circulation. If nuclear stress testing reveals abnormal circulation, your physician will determine the necessary steps to help you return your coronary circulation to as close to normal as possible.