Combining the use of treadmill exercise or pharmacologic vasodilators in conjunction with special radioactive tracers, nuclear stress testing allows for the detection of abnormal blood flow to the heart muscle, as well as the assessment of the pumping function of the heart. The most common procedure is myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) or single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Small amounts of radioactive material are injected intravenously and these tracers are taken up and retained in the heart tissue in proportion to the regional blood supply. Usually, two scans are obtained after tracer injection, one at rest and one in which the agent is injected during exercise or medication-induced stress. Areas with reduced blood supply may suggest underlying blockages or a prior heart attack.
Dr. Diwadkar is board certified in Nuclear Cardiology by the Council for the Certification of Cardiovascular Imaging (CCCVI) and Certification Board of Nuclear Cardiology (CBNC).