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Nuclear Cardiology

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What is Nuclear Cardiology?

Nuclear cardiology uses safe, low-dose radioactive materials and a gamma camera to assess the heart. The imaging is very accurate, making it especially useful for diagnosing and evaluating risk of heart conditions and effectiveness of therapies. Nuclear cardiology is safe and effective for patients who are obese or have disease of the heart, lungs, kidneys.

Nuclear cardiology is most used for:

  • Stress testing—blood flow in the heart and cardiac performance is assessed with exercise or medication “stress.”
  • Assessing a prior heart attack or scar.
  • Assessing cardiac function.
  • Identifying patients who benefit from advanced pacemakers by measuring timing of heart contractions.
  • Assessing abnormal proteins which alter cardiac function.
  • Assessing hibernating, viable myocardium—when the heart muscle has very reduced blood flow and does not move properly at rest.
  • Assessing cardiotoxicity—damage or dysfunction of the heart muscle due to exposure to toxic substances.
  • Assessing inflammation or infections in the heart or blood vessels.

UR Medicine's Approach

Advanced Nuclear Cardiology

UR Medicine uses the following types of advanced equipment for nuclear cardiology:

  • Digital CZT SPECT with D-SPECT are 10 times more sensitive than regular gamma cameras. They use a special method that was developed at UR Medicine to diagnose amyloidosis. They also use AI to check heart scan results and can assess heart timing problems.
  • Non-contrast CT is used to check coronary plaque.
  • Cardiac PET is used to check for cardiac sarcoidosis.

What Happens During a Nuclear Cardiology Test?

Your provider may order nuclear cardiology tests to get more information about your heart health or to see if certain treatments are working.

During a nuclear cardiology test, you may either rest quietly, exercise lightly, or take medication to make your heart work harder. Images are then taken by either SPECT or PET gamma cameras as the radiotracer moves through the heart.

The small amounts of radiotracers injected for diagnostic imaging do not affect the body. These tests do not affect cardiac, pulmonary, liver, or renal diseases, and they avoid the use of iodinated contrast, which could affect your kidney and heart function.

The test takes about three to four hours.

What Sets Us Apart?

As the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region’s only academic medical center, we have exceptionally high standards that help ensure the best results for our patients. Whether you need to control your high blood pressure or seek specialized care for an unusual heart condition, we have the expertise for you.

UR Medicine has the most advanced technology for nuclear cardiology testing which integrates digital SPECT and digital PET with AI methods of image analysis. We are certified by Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Nuclear Medicine Laboratories (ICANL) as well as the American College of Radiology (ACR). Our cardiologists and researchers have developed heart care advances and devices that are used around the world.

The URMC Nuclear Cardiology Laboratory advanced clinical care in the field by pioneering routine, same-day, rapid computerized reporting beginning in the 1980s. This includes instant personalized communication to referring providers of abnormal or unexpected results.


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We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

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4 locations

Cardiac Care - Rochester
Part of Highland Hospital

Highland Hospital
1000 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 14620

Paul N. Yu Heart Center - Rochester
Part of Strong Memorial Hospital

Ambulatory Care Center at Strong Memorial Hospital
601 Elmwood Avenue, Ground Floor
Rochester, NY 14626

Cardiac Care - Brighton
Part of Strong Memorial Hospital

140 Canal View Boulevard, Suite 102
Rochester, NY 14623

Cardiac Rehabilitation - Canandaigua
Part of FF Thompson Hospital

FF Thompson Hospital
350 Parrish Street
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Additional Information

What Should I Do to Prepare for a Nuclear Cardiology Stress Test?

48 hours before the nuclear cardiology stress test:

  • Stay well hydrated by drinking extra glasses of water unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
  • Do not take the following medications: Dipyridamole (Persantine, Aggrenox), aminophylline or theophylline.

24 hours before the nuclear cardiology stress test: AVOID CAFFEINE

  • Do not eat or drink coffee, tea, cola, Sunkist Orange soda, decaffeinated products, chocolate, cocoa, or other caffeine containing beverages. 
  • Do not take any over the counter medications that contain caffeine such as Excedrin, Anacin, diet pills and NoDoz caffeine pills. 
  • Read the labels of anything you eat or drink for 24 hours before the test as caffeine can be found in unexpected places.

Day of the nuclear cardiology stress test:

If your test is scheduled for first thing in the morning:

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the test except water. 

If your test is scheduled in the afternoon:

  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 4 hours before the test. 
  • Take permitted medications with water.
  • Do not smoke or vape on the day of the test

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