Nuclear cardiology combines the expertise of cardiologists and radiologists to provide you with a detailed, accurate heart diagnosis.
The nuclear cardiology specialists at the University of Vermont Medical Center use the latest diagnostic technology available. In fact, we are the only center in Vermont to offer positron emission tomography (PET) nuclear cardiac studies.
Nuclear Cardiology at UVM Medical Center: Why Choose Us?
Nuclear cardiology is part of a comprehensive diagnosis for heart conditions. It allows your team to see your heart in exquisite detail, examining the coronary arteries that feed into your heart muscle.
At our center, you will find:
- Innovative technology: We use the latest equipment and software technology. Our nuclear cardiology cameras give our team incredibly clear, detailed, high-resolution images of your heart.
- High volume: We conduct more than 2,500 studies every year. This high volume translates into a superior depth of expertise for our team.
- Collaborative diagnosis: Our collaborative approach to diagnosis sets us apart. At our center, nuclear radiologists and nuclear cardiologists sit down together to read and analyze each study. Together, they help confirm a diagnosis and make care recommendations.
- Quick turnaround time: We know how anxious the diagnostic phase can be as you wait for results. We make sure to get our report to your doctor quickly. Average time is less than four hours from the time of your test. When your doctor has the report, he or she will contact you to discuss next steps.
- Certified: We are certified for Nuclear Cardiology from the American College of Radiology.
What to Expect During a Nuclear Cardiology Test
A nuclear cardiology test takes detailed pictures of your heart twice, once when it is at rest and once when it is “stressed” (usually after exercise, like walking on a treadmill). For patients who may be unable to walk on a treadmill, we can give you medication that simulates exercise.
During the test:
- We inject a small amount of a radioactive tracer, called a radionuclide.
- The heart absorbs the tracer.
- A high-resolution camera takes still and moving pictures of your heart, first at rest and then after exercise.
- We analyze your results, examining your heart structure and function and determining an exact diagnosis.
Nuclear Cardiology Tests: Our Technology
There are two types of technology we use to conduct nuclear cardiology tests. Both examine myocardial perfusion, or the blood flow to your heart muscle. We will determine which type of nuclear study is best suited for your needs.
- SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography): During the test, we look for signs of ischemia, a narrowing of your arteries.
- PET study: The study is similar to the SPECT but is much shorter. It takes about 45 minutes, compared to three or four hours for the SPECT test. We often use PET studies for patients with a BMI of more than 40.
What is Nuclear Cardiology Used For?
The detailed information we gain from a nuclear cardiology test is invaluable in providing an accurate diagnosis and helping us plan effective treatment. Your doctor may recommend a nuclear cardiology study in order to evaluate:
- How efficiently your heart pumps blood
- If your arteries are narrowed, blocking the flow of blood to your heart
- Evidence of heart disease
- What type of treatment may be most effective for you (whether you need medication, a catheterization or a procedure such as angioplasty)
Nuclear Cardiology: Our Team
Our integrated team includes many medical professionals from different fields of radiology and cardiology. We all work together to ensure an accurate diagnosis, so you can get the most effective treatment as quickly as possible. Your team includes:
- Nuclear medicine technologist, who performs your test
- Noninvasive cardiology specialists
- Nurse specializing in stress tests
- Cardiology technician
In addition, because we are a teaching hospital, a cardiology fellow or cardiology attending physician may participate in your care as well.