Nuclear Heart Scan

A nuclear heart scan is a safe, painless imaging method that uses very small amounts of radioactive material, called tracer, to provide detailed information about the structure and function of your heart. A special camera creates a digital computer image by tracking the tracer you’ll receive during the procedure, making it a highly effective diagnostic tool.

These images help us identify heart disease or damage from previous heart attacks, and help determine your risk for future heart attacks. They also help your cardiologist decide what medications, tests or procedures you need. A physician’s order is required for nuclear cardiology testing.

At Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Department of Nuclear Cardiology, we offer a full range of diagnostic testing for cardiac conditions, including:

  • Myocardial perfusion imaging (pharmacologic and treadmill) for coronary artery disease
  • Treadmill stress tests

Radiation safety

Please tell your physician or the CT staff if you:

  • Are pregnant, might be pregnant, or are trying to get pregnant
  • Are allergic to contrast dye or iodine
  • Have known kidney disease
  • Have diabetes
  • Have had a problem with this exam (or other contrast exams) in the past

As with any treatment or test, discuss the risks and benefits of a CT scan with your physician.

CT scans use X-rays to produce images used for diagnosis and treatment. At Northwestern Medicine, we are committed to safe and effective X-ray exposure using the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) philosophy.

This means that your scan will be done with the least amount of radiation possible using sophisticated advanced dose monitoring technology, without reducing the diagnostic quality of the exam. All of our scanners have been pre-programmed with the instructions specific for the body part being scanned, which also assists in radiation dose reduction.

American College of Radiology (ACR) Accreditation

Our ultrasound, MRI, nuclear cardiology, nuclear medicine and CT departments are proud to be an accredited facility of the American College of Radiology (ACR). Earning this designation means:

  • We have voluntarily gone through a rigorous review process to ensure that we meet nationally accepted standards.
  • Our staff is well-qualified through education and certification to perform and interpret your imaging.
  • Our equipment is appropriate for the test or treatment you will receive.
  • Our facility meets or exceeds quality assurance and safety.