Nuclear imaging is an exam in which a specific amount of radioactive material that is safe for human consumption is injected into a vein. This small amount of radioactive material will not harm your body or organs.
Once the material is flowing in your veins, a special camera is used to take photos of your heart. In some cases, the photos can be taken while you are undergoing a stress test. The pictures show how your heart is functioning and how the blood flows to the heart.
They also give our specialist an indication if more investigation is required for certain symptoms of heart disease. Nuclear imaging can help the doctor diagnose and treat heart conditions.
The imaging tests are extremely sensitive and detect disease at an early stage. Scans such as CTs and MRIs only give structural information while nuclear imaging gives information about the viability of different tissues and organs and their functional status. For example, the tests can show if the arteries are blocked or narrowed from coronary artery disease, whether there is heart muscle damage and how well the heart pumps blood.
During a consultation with our specialist, you can learn more about nuclear imaging and if it is recommended for your symptoms. Some of the most common reasons people may inquire about nuclear imaging are if they have unexplained chest pain or chest pain that starts after exercise. The procedure is used to:
• Evaluate the extent of coronary artery disease
• Evaluate the extent of injury after a heart attack
• Evaluate the result of bypass surgery or another procedure done to restore blood flow to the heart
• Evaluate heart-wall movement in conjunction with an electrocardiogram (ECG)
If our specialist determines that nuclear imaging is your best option, there are some things you need to do before treatment. Women should tell our doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there are special considerations for these conditions. You should also tell the physician if you have any allergies or medical conditions. If you take any medications including vitamins and herbal supplements, our physician may ask you to stop.
Our specialist may also give you instructions to stop caffeine drinks, including decaffeinated coffee, hot and cold tea, energy or soft drinks that contain caffeine, for 48 hours before the exam. If you smoke, you should stop at least 48 hours before the exam.
At The Vein Center at Cardiology Consultants of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, we proudly offer nuclear imaging for our patients. Nuclear imaging provides a more accurate heart diagnosis than other tests. It is often used in conjunction with other tests or may be used on its own. Either way, it can help us to diagnose any heart issues you have before they become serious.
Contact our office today to schedule your appointment for nuclear imaging.