Cardiac nuclear imaging allows your physician to check the blood flow through muscle tissue in your heart. To track the blood flow, a small amount of tracer fluid is injected through a vein in your arm. A camera then scans the tracer material in the blood as it flows through your circulatory system. The test, conducted before and during exercise, shows your doctor what part of your heart is not getting sufficient blood flow or the extent of damage to your heart following a heart attack.
What to expect during this test or treatment
- You will be asked to undress from the waist up and change into a gown.
- A technologist will place several small adhesive electrodes on your chest. These electrodes are connected by thin wires to a heart monitor that records your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
- You will lie on a table in the procedure room and be positioned under a large camera.
- A tracer material will then be injected through an IV line that will be inserted in a vein in your arm. This tracer material is used so that the camera can take pictures of your blood as it travels through your heart.
- It is important that you lie very still while the camera is working because movement can affect image quality.
- To see how your heart reacts to physical activity, the technologist will have you exercise on a treadmill or bicycle for a period of time. Additional pictures will be taken after the exercise. If you are unable to exercise, you may be given medication to increase your heart rate.
- Once the images are obtained, the IV will be removed and you will be free to leave unless directed otherwise.
What to expect after this test or treatment
- You should not feel any discomfort. However, you may feel tired from the exercise.
- If you have sensitive skin, you may have a slight irritation from the electrode patches.
- Your images will be interpreted by a nuclear medicine physician, who will search for abnormal heart function or disease and make a diagnosis.
- Your physician will schedule a time to meet with you to discuss the results of the test.
If you have any questions about your care after you return home, call your physician’s office.
This test or treatment is offered at these facilities:
Want to know more about this condition?
Read about blood flow to and from the heart in our Health Information Center.
To find a physician visit our Find a Doc or call (502) 629-1234 for a physician referral.