Cardiac Nuclear Medicine to Diagnose Cardiac Diseases

Nuclear medicine is a branch of medicine and medical imaging that uses radioactive isotopes for diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases such as cancers, heart disease and other ailments within the body. Nuclear medicine imaging is a noninvasive and painless medical procedure that helps doctors to diagnose medical conditions. These imaging scans use radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers.

Doctors use cardiac nuclear medicine to diagnose cardiac diseases. Cardiac nuclear medicine imaging is performed to determine the following:
  • Myocardial perfusion scan to visualize blood flow patterns to the heart walls
  • To evaluate the presence of coronary artery disease
  • Myocardial infarction, to determine the condition of the heart following a heart attack
  • To evaluate the results of bypass surgery
  • Cardiac gating to evaluate the overall heart function
According to the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the radiotracer is either swallowed or inhaled as gas or injected into a vein. It eventually gets accumulated in the area of the body being examined, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays.  This energy is detected by a gamma camera encased in metal. These cameras can take pictures from different angles. The computer displays the images obtained by the camera. The functional information gained from nuclear medicine exams is often unobtainable by any other imaging techniques.

As a precaution, if you are undergoing a nuclear medical exam, do inform the doctor if you have any allergies, or if you have asthma or a chronic lung disease that might interfere with the procedure.


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