Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses radioactive material to diagnose and treat disease. Diagnostic procedures are used on different organs of the body such as the bones, brain, kidney, lung, heart, digestive system and urinary tract.
The procedure includes labeling the radiopharmaceutical of the desired organ with a radioactive material and injecting it into the patient’s body; by doing so, the material begins to accumulate in that organ; then imaging is performed using a gamma camera. Unlike radiology methods that generally provide information about an organ’s construction, nuclear medicine procedures obtain information about their functioning.
Heart scan is one of the most common diagnostic methods of nuclear medicine to investigate the blood flow or the presence of living tissues in heart muscles. This procedure provides information about the severity of artery obstruction, the clinical significance of thrombosis, the prognosis of heart disease, presence or absence of living tissues, the possibility and usefulness of remedial procedures such as open-heart surgery or angioplasty and also is beneficial as a follow-up for patients undergone a surgery. To assess myocardial perfusion, heart scan is usually performed in two stages in one or two days. In the resting phase, radioactive material is injected and after a while imaging is performed. In the activity phase, either the patient is get into a state of activity like that of exercise testing or some cardiac stimulant drugs are used to bring about the same effect; then after injection of radioactive material imaging is performed. In the last part myocardial perfusion at these two stages are compared with each other to interpret the results. In some cases such as the study of living tissues, scanning is only performed at rest.