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 Nuclear Imaging and Heart Disease Diagnosis

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Join date : 06.07.2011

ПисанеЗаглавие: Nuclear Imaging and Heart Disease Diagnosis   Чет Юли 14, 2011 11:07 am

One of the many tests that may be used to diagnose your heart disease is nuclear imaging, which also may be called a nuclear heart scan, nuclear stress test, or radionuclide testing. It is usually performed along with an exercise stress test, in which your heart is monitored while you are using a treadmill under a doctor’s supervision.
Worried about your heart health? Find a cardiologist in your area.

What Is Nuclear Imaging?

Nuclear imaging means that your doctor will inject a radioactive dye, or “tracer,” into your bloodstream. Special cameras that circle around your body are used to take X-rays of the tracer once it has flowed through your heart and nearby arteries, settling into the areas where heart tissue is working best. These images are put together to create a three-dimensional image of your heart, which shows which parts of the heart are healthy or diseased.

Usually your doctor does this test while your heart is working hard — because you're exercising (during an exercise stress test) or you've taken medications that stimulate the heart to beat as if you were exercising — and when it is at rest. By comparing the differences in function between your heart when it's working and when it's resting, your doctor may be able to diagnose heart disease.

There are two basic types of nuclear imaging systems:

* SPECT (single positron emission computed tomography). This is the most commonly used nuclear imaging system, and together with an exercise stress test SPECT can show your doctor if you have any problems with blood flow to your heart.
* PET (positron emission tomography) . This is a newer system and is used less often, in part because it's more expensive. PET may detect a problem in more than one blood vessel going to your heart better than SPECT and may be more accurate in picking up tiny defects in heart tissue.

The type of tracer you are given will depend on the nuclear imaging system that is used.
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When Is Nuclear Imaging Used?

Nuclear imaging helps your doctor:

* Understand the results of an abnormal EKG
* Diagnose heart disease, such as coronary artery disease (CAD)
* Find out whether parts of your heart muscle are damaged
* See how well heart disease-related surgeries have worked for you
* Find out whether you need surgery, such as coronary-artery bypass graft surgery
* Figure out whether you need more invasive heart disease tests, such as catheterization
* See whether your heart is pumping blood as effectively as it should

Benefits of Nuclear Imaging

There are significant benefits to nuclear imaging tests for heart disease diagnosisom:

* It’s noninvasive. The primary benefit of nuclear imaging is that it is a noninvasive (no incisions or surgery) way of checking on your heart’s function while exercising and at rest.
* Detailed imaging. For many patients, a nuclear scan provides images detailed enough to diagnose heart disease earlier than other tests.

Risks of Nuclear Imaging

Nuclear imaging is very safe, but patients should be aware of:

* Radiation. A recent review of data from 1 million adults showed that the use of medical scans such as nuclear imaging tests has significantly increased the annual exposure to radiation in some Americans. The small dose of radiation involved is considered to be safe for adults, but women who are pregnant should talk to their doctor about these tests because of the potential risk to their growing baby.
* Allergy to the tracer. Rarely, patients experience an allergic reaction to the tracer or other medications used.
* Discomfort. The injection site may be irritated, red, or sore for a small period of time.

If your doctor advises a nuclear imaging test, there is very little need to worry about the experience. In fact, the information you both get from this is an invaluable contribution to the understanding of your heart health.
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