Nuclear Stress Testing

Nuclear Stress Testing

Nuclear stress tests show the relative amounts of radioisotope within the heart muscle and more accurately identify regional areas of reduced blood flow. The best-known example is myocardial perfusion imaging. A radiotracer may be injected during the test to capture images of the blood flow. Scans acquired before and after exercise are examined to assess the state of the coronary arteries of the patient.

Stress and potential cardiac damage from exercise during the test is a problem in patients with ECG abnormalities at rest or severe motor disability. Pharmacological stimulation from vasodilators like dipyridamole or adenosine, or positive chronotropic agents such as dobutamine can be used.