What is Nuclear Cardiology?
The Nuclear Cardiology department carries out Myocardial Perfusion scans (MPS).
These tests allow assessment of the blood flow to the heart muscle via the coronary arteries. Sometimes these arteries can become blocked or narrowed and the heart muscle may not receive enough blood to function properly and cause symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. This narrowing is called coronary artery disease (CAD) and may also be known as angina.
The MPS test is divided into two parts, a stress and rest scan and are performed by a specially trained radiographer or technician. During the rest part of the test an injection of a radioactive tracer will be given into a vein in your arm. This is taken up into the heart muscle in proportion to blood flow whilst resting.
After a 40 minute wait where you should have something to eat and drink, a scan is undertaken using a dedicated cardiac gamma camera. This will collect images of the distribution of the radioactive tracer within your heart muscle. This involves laying flat on the scanning bed with your arms above your head for approximately 5 minutes. The gamma camera heads come close to your chest but won't touch or hurt you.
For the stress part of the test you will be given a drug via a cannula in a vein in your arm that mimics the effects of exercise by opening up (vasodilating) the coronary arteries. This is called a pharmacological stress test and your blood pressure and ECG will be checked throughout. Once the arteries have been opened up the radioactive tracer will also be administered. This will then be taken up into the heart muscle in proportion to blood flow whilst 'exercising'. Corresponding images will be collected 40 minutes later.
The distribution of the radioactive tracer within the heart muscle can then be compared between both scans and will help determine the presence of any narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. This test can also see how well your heart is working and assess for any abnormalities in how the heart pumps blood.