Nuclear Medicine Testing Questions & Answers
Bridgewater Primary Care & Cardiology offer nuclear medicine testing to diagnose cancer and other illnesses. Call us for more information or request an appointment online. We are located at at 711 West Center St West Bridgewater MA 02379
Digirad provides equipment, staffing, quality control, nuclear licensing and radiopharmaceuticals to allow patients to be imaged in the comfort and convenience of our office under Dr.Terzian’s direct supervision.
The Cardiolite scans (Cardiolite is the trade name for sestamibi) are tests that show how well blood is flowing to various portions of the heart muscle. These tests, so-called “nuclear perfusion studies,” are generally used in conjunction with stress tests to non-invasively detect the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD) that is producing partial obstructions in the coronary arteries.
What is cardiolite?
Cardiolite is a radioactive substance. When injected into the bloodstream, this substance collects in the portions of heart muscle that have good blood flow. If one of the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle) is blocked or partially blocked, relatively little Cardiolite accumulates in the muscle supplied by that blocked artery.
How are nuclear perfusion studies performed?
During your stress test, Cardiolite will be injected into your vein when you have attained your maximum level of exercise. The radioactive substance will distribute itself throughout your heart muscle in proportion to the blood flow received by that muscle. Cardiac muscle receiving normal blood flow accumulates a larger amount of Cardiolite than cardiac muscle that is supplied by diseased coronary arteries.
An image of your heart will then be made by a special camera that can “see” the Cardiolite. From these pictures, any portions of the heart that are not receiving normal blood flow (because of blockage in the coronary arteries) can be identified.
What are nuclear perfusion studies good for?
Using Cardiolite perfusion imaging greatly increases the accuracy of the stress test in diagnosing obstructive CAD. A normal Cardiolite test is an excellent indication that you have no significant blockages in your coronary arteries. On the other hand, patients with abnormal perfusion scans are highly likely to have significant blockages.
What are the risks of nuclear perfusion scans?
These noninvasive studies are very safe. Their only drawback is that radiation is used. The level of radiation the patient receives is felt to produce only a very small risk of harm, and for appropriately selected patients the potential for benefit far outweighs this small risk.
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