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Nuclear Imaging

Nuclear imaging is a technique for producing images of various body parts using small amounts of radioactive tracers. After administration of the tracer, images of the body part are obtained with a gamma camera, which helps physicians in diagnosing conditions.

Blood Volume Testing
A blood volume test is a nuclear lab procedure used to measure the volume (amount) of blood in the body.
Hemodynamic Test
A hemo (blood)-dynamic (flow) test is a nuclear imaging procedure that evaluates the function of the heart and circulation.
Multigated Acquisition Scan (MUGA)
A multigated acquisition scan is a noninvasive diagnostic test used to evaluate the pumping function of the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart).
Pharmacological Nuclear Stress Test
A pharmacological nuclear stress test is a diagnostic test used to evaluate blood flow to the heart.
Nuclear Exercise Stress Test
A nuclear exercise stress test is a diagnostic test used to evaluate blood flow to the heart.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
A PET study is a diagnostic test used to evaluate blood flow to the heart.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nuclear Imaging

How long does a nuclear imaging test take?

It depends on the type of test, though most take at least an hour or more. For example, a lung scan may take only half an hour, while a heart study may take two hours. In some cases, more than one test is needed, such as for cardiac studies.

How is the tracer administered?

Typically, tracers are injected into a vein, though some tracers may be taken orally. 

Are there any side effects from these studies?

Nuclear imaging tests involve very low amounts of radiation, similar to the exposure received in a routine chest X-ray. Therefore, no significant adverse or allergic reactions from the drug are encountered. 

What are the benefits of nuclear imaging tests?

Nuclear imaging tests are very sensitive and can detect many diseases at early stages. Unlike MRI and CT scans that give only structural information, nuclear imaging tests provide information about the functional status and viability of different organs and tissues.

More Information

Reviewed: 09/11

This information is about testing and procedures and may include instructions specific to Cleveland Clinic.
Please consult your physician for information pertaining to your testing.

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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