Nuclear Stress Test

Myocardial Perfusion Stress Test Using Cardiolite

Nuclear cardiology studies use non-invasive techniques to assess myocardial blood flow, evaluate the pumping function of the heart as well as visualize the size and location of a heart attack.

Myocardial perfusion images are combined with exercise to assess the blood flow to the heart muscle. Exercise can be in the form of walking on the treadmill or for those that are not able to use a treadmill by using a “chemical” stress test using the drug dipyridamole, adenosine or dobutamine, thus providing similar information about the heart’s blood flow.

A small amount of an imaging agent {thallium or sestamibi (Cardiolite) or tetrofosmin (Myoview)}, is injected into the blood stream during rest and during exercise or chemical stress. A scanning device (gamma camera) is used to measure the uptake by the heart of the imaging material during (exercise or chemical stress) and at rest. If there is significant blockage of a coronary artery, the heart muscle may not get enough of a blood supply in the setting of exercise or during chemical stress. This decrease in blood flow will be detected by the images.

Myocardial perfusion studies can thus identify areas of the heart muscle that have an inadequate blood supply as well as the areas of heart muscle that are scarred from a heart attack. In addition to the localization of the coronary artery with atherosclerosis, myocardial perfusion studies quantify the extent of the heart muscle with a limited blood flow and can also provide information about the pumping function of the heart. Thus, it is superior to routine exercise stress testing and provides the necessary information to help identify which patients are at an increased risk for a heart attack and may be candidates for invasive procedures such as coronary angiography, angioplasty and heart surgery.

Assessment of Myocardial Injury, Infarction and Infection
The basic cellular component of the heart muscle may be irreversibly affected in the setting of a limited blood supply and or inflammation. Nuclear cardiology techniques can be used to determine which areas of the heart muscle have been damaged by infection or by a heart attack. These techniques can also be used to monitor the status of the heart muscle in the patient after cardiac transplantation.

Patient Preparation For A Cardiolite Stress Test
Patients are asked to not eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours prior to the test. Additionally, all caffeinated products (ie. caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, soda, chocolates etc.) are stopped for 24 hours prior. It is strongly recommended that all patients wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes for this test.

Duration of a Cardiolite Stress Test
The Myocardial Perfusion Test can take up to 4 hours to complete. The isotopes that are injected during the study must have ample time to circulate and be physiologically processed in your body prior to imaging. Therefore, you may want to bring some reading material to help pass the time.

If you have questions, please contact the Nebraska Heart Institute at (800) NHI DOCS or send us an