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Nuclear Cardiac Studies at UPMC in South Central Pa.

A nuclear cardiac study is an exam that uses radioactive isotopes in conjunction with a gamma camera to capture images of the heart. This test shows your cardiologist how the blood flows to your heart and how your heart pumps while under rest and stress.

You may be given a nuclear stress test if your doctor suspects you have coronary artery disease or another heart problem including chest pain, shortness of breath (SOB), hypertension (high blood pressure), abnormal cardiac blood work, history of coronary artery disease (CAD), detection of viable cardiac tissue (viability exam) and cardiac risk stratification prior to surgery.

What is a nuclear cardiac study?

It is an exam to evaluate the heart blood flow and function. There are a few variations of nuclear stress tests which include walking on the treadmill for those patients that can tolerate exercise and pharmacologic (medicine) agents to stress the heart for those patients that have little or no exercise tolerance. Most nuclear stress tests take approximately two hours to complete. Modification of the stress test can be done by request from the Cardiologist, referring physician or due to a patient’s condition.

The procedure is as follows:

  • The patient will be interviewed by the technologist to make sure prep was followed and contraindications to do the test do not exist.
  • An injection of a radioisotope is given into an IV started in a vein in the hand or arm.
  • The patient will wait for 15-30 minutes prior to resting images the heart.
  • The patient will be placed on a table on their back underneath a gamma camera for resting images of the heart. The images take 10-15 minutes.
  • The patient’s heart is monitored and stressed either by walking on the treadmill or pharmacologic means. During the stress portion of the test, a second injection of the radioisotope is given to the patient through the IV.
  • The patient will wait for 15-30 minutes prior to the stress images of the heart.
  • The patient will be placed on a table on their back underneath a gamma camera for the stress images of the heart. The images take 10-15 minutes.
  • The test is complete and results will be reviewed by a Cardiologist.
  • There are no restrictions for the patient following a nuclear stress test.

Multi Gated Acquisition (MUGA) Scan

Nuclear studies include a Multi Gated Acquisition Scan (MUGA) scan. This involves an IV injection and a gamma camera. A resting MUGA scan is a nuclear scan to evaluate how well the heart walls move and a quantitative evaluation of how well the heart pumps, while the patient is at rest. Most MUGA scans take approximately one hour.

The procedure is as follows:

  • The patient is interviewed by the technologist performing the exam.
  • An IV is started in the patients hand or arm and 3-5 cc of blood is taken so it can be mixed with a radioisotope.
  • The patient will wait approximately 20 minutes.
  • The patient is injected with their blood and the radioisotope and the patient will be placed on a table on their back underneath a gamma camera for resting images of the heart. The patient’s heart rate will be monitored during the scan. The images generally take about 30 minutes.
  • The test is complete and results will be reviewed by a Cardiologist.
  • There are no restrictions for the patient following a MUGA scan.

How to Prepare

  • You will be asked not to eat, drink or smoke for several hours before a nuclear stress test. You may be asked to stop certain medications for a time period.
  • You may be asked to bring your medications or supply a list to your appointment.
  • If you use an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems, bring it with you to the test. Make sure your doctor and the health care team member monitoring your stress test know that you use an inhaler.
  • Wear or bring comfortable clothes with you to the exercise stress test.

Are there risks with a nuclear test?

A nuclear stress test is usually safe. Potential side effects of the stress test include:

  • Blood pressure fluctuations during or after exercise
  • EKG changes/Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
  • Flushing sensation
  • Stomach pain or pressure
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate

Need more information?

Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Practices
Cumberland/Dauphin/Franklin/Perry Counties: 717-731-0101
Pediatric : 717-761-0200
Hanover: 717-637-1738
York: 717-849-5576
Lancaster/Lititz: 717-299-5000
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery: 717-231-8555

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Locations

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Lebanon Valley Advanced Care Center
1251 East Main Street
Suite 3
Annville, PA 17003

Adult Cardiology: 717-731-0101
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Part of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
360 Alexander Spring Road
Carlisle, PA 17013

Adult Cardiology: 717-243-6557
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-243-0102 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Part of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
900 Century Drive
Suite 100
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Phone: 717-591-3660 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-591-3661

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Medical Professional Center of Newport
300 Bretz Court
Newport, PA 17074

Phone: 717-567-7246 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-567-2621 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Part of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
2808 Old Post Road
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Adult Cardiology: 717-920-4400
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-920-4401

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Part of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
12 Saint Paul Drive
Suite 205
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Adult Cardiology: 717-217-6881
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-217-6889

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Commerce Park Professional Center
20 Expedition Trail
Suite 203
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
2201 Brunswick Drive
2200
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Medical Office Building
310 Stock Street
Suite 3
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Part of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
16324 Mount Airy Road
Lower Level
Shrewsbury, PA 17361

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Part of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1600 6th Avenue
Suite 105
York, PA 17403

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1555 Highlands Drive
Suite 100
Lititz, PA 17543

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute (formerly Cardiac Consultants)
1697 Crown Avenue
Suite 100
Lancaster, PA 17601

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205

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