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What Is Nuclear Cardiology?

A cardiologist treats disorders and conditions related to a patient’s heart and blood vessels. Various imaging technology exists to aid doctors in diagnosing cardiovascular diseases, including nuclear medicine.

This type of diagnostic tool uses minute amounts of radioactive material, called radiotracers, that creates energy that can be translated into an image of the human body which doctors can use to evaluate medical conditions. Buckeye Heart and Vascular Institute, a cardiovascular diagnostic and treatment facility in Dayton, OH, responds to frequently asked questions about nuclear cardiology and its application to diagnostics.

nuclear stress test Dayton Ohio

How Does Nuclear Imaging Work?

Nuclear imaging involves radiotracers which a doctor administers to a patient, usually intravenously. This material emits gamma rays that specialized cameras can detect and turn into images that show how a patient’s organs appear and function.

While other imaging technology, like x-rays, can create clear pictures of a patient’s anatomy, nuclear imaging can measure the amount of radiotracers that an organ absorbs, which can provide a more detailed account of the organ’s structure. Therefore, many medical professionals turn to nuclear medicine when evaluating the function of a patient’s system.

How Can This Technology Apply to Cardiology?

Cardiovascular specialists utilize nuclear imaging to spot various diseases, including coronary artery disease and other damage to the heart. The precision and detail in the images that this type of technology can produce allows for early diagnoses and therefore prompt treatment when needed.

More specifically, cardiologists will often recommend a nuclear stress test to assess cardiovascular risks and blood flow concerns. This type of testing combines the physical activity of a standard stress test with the specialized gamma-ray cameras of nuclear medicine to create an effective and thorough cardiovascular diagnostic tool.

Are There Risks with a Nuclear Stress Test?

Patients may feel slight discomfort when a doctor inserts an IV to deliver the radiotracers to their system, but this test is otherwise pain-free with no side effects. After the stress test, patients may feel out of breath or tired, and doctors will encourage them to lie down to recover.

The radiotracers will pass out of your body naturally soon after this test. You may resume your normal activities at the completion of this test, which will last approximately 45 minutes.

This test does not cause long-term adverse effects, though allergic reactions to the radiotracers are extremely rare, often mild, and resolve quickly with medical supervision. Your doctor can describe your anticipated nuclear testing in detail in relation to your specific medical needs during a consultation appointment.

Learn More from Your Vascular Specialist in Dayton, OH

Buckeye Heart and Vascular Institute offers diagnostics, imaging, and treatment for individuals with cardiovascular concerns in Dayton, OH. Contact one of our specialists if you suffer from vascular disease, arrhythmia, or other cardiovascular issues. To schedule an appointment with our practice, contact our office by phone at 937.203.8602 or reach our staff online.