Nuclear imaging is recommended by your provider to help identify areas of reduced blood flow to the heart muscle caused by plaque buildup in the heart arteries.
During a nuclear imaging study, a small dose of a radioactive isotope is injected into your bloodstream. The isotope, or tracer, is carried through the bloodstream and to the heart muscle. When the isotope reaches the heart muscle, the radiation attaches to the muscle. If there is reduced blood flow, less radiation can attach to the heart muscle.
A specialized camera detects the radiation and records information about the heart and its blood flow. The images are analyzed by a trained cardiologist.
The radiation dose is comparable to many x-ray studies, such as a CT scan of the chest. It gradually leaves the body over 24 hours after the test.