Nuclear cardiology uses nuclear-imaging tests and studies to diagnose and assess conditions related to the heart. Nuclear-imaging tests may be used to assess blood flow, evaluate the pumping function of the heart, view the arteries of the heart, or determine the cause of a heart attack.
Nuclear cardiology uses various imaging scans of the heart to locate or diagnose conditions that may include:
- Congenital heart disease
- Blockage of the arteries
- Heart valve problems
- Plaque build-up within coronary arteries
- Risk of heart attack
Nuclear Cardiology Studies
Nuclear cardiology studies include the use of imaging test that may be combined with other types of diagnostic tests such as stress tests to diagnose heart-related conditions or determine the cause of unexplained chest pain.
Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography
A coronary computed tomography angiography, also known as a CTA, is heart-imaging test that produces 3D pictures of the heart and the related blood vessels to determine if there is a build-up of plaque within the blood vessels. The CTA uses a contrast dye that is injected into the blood stream and X-rays to create images of the blood vessels within heart.
Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
Myocardial perfusion imaging combines nuclear cardiology images with physical activity or exercise to assess the blood flow to the heart muscles. A contrast dye is injected into the bloodstream and a scanning device known as a gamma camera, is used to create images of the heart muscles during exercise and periods of rest. An EKG test may also be performed during this time. This test can determine the areas of the heart muscle that may have limited blood flow or an inadequate blood supply.
Radionuclide ventriculography is a diagnostic imaging test that measures the pumping function of the heart. A contrast dye is injected into the blood stream and a gamma camera is used to take pictures of the four chambers of the heart. The radionuclide ventriculography is an effective assessment of heart function for patients with coronary artery disease or for those who have had a heart attack.
Positron Emission Tomography
Positron emission tomography, also known as a PET scan, is an imaging test used to create images to measure the blood supply and the activity of the heart and the heart muscles. This test is often used to determine whether inadequate blood flow may be caused by blockage in the arteries of the heart. PET scans may also be used to evaluate the nervous system of the heart.
Nuclear cardiology studies are important and effective tools in the diagnosis and treatment of heart-related conditions.
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine
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