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Nuclear Cardiology

Nuclear cardiology, a noninvasive imaging technique, allows UNC Medical Center cardiologists to evaluate the heart in action during stress testing. Our heart specialists use these procedures to see how well your heart pumps blood and how well blood flows. The images help your doctor determine if you have coronary artery disease and, if you do, the level of severity.

Multidisciplinary, Experienced Specialists

Choose UNC Medical Center for your nuclear cardiology procedures. Take advantage of our experienced cardiologists and interventional radiologists, who work together to diagnose whether you have a heart condition, and, if needed, provide the best treatment for your specific situation. The multidisciplinary collaboration among specialists–along with the latest technologies and the most advanced techniques–allows UNC Medical Center to stand at the forefront of nuclear cardiology in the region.

Types of Nuclear Cardiology Testing

Nuclear cardiology imaging tests take pictures of your heart after a technologist injects a small amount of radioactive material, called tracers, into your blood stream. UNC Medical Center cardiology specialists offer a full range of nuclear imaging tests, such as:

  • Myocardial perfusion imaging (nuclear stress test) – Examines blood flow through your heart while under stress, either through exercise or with a specialized drug, and while at rest; images tell your doctor if you have a healthy heart, or a blockage or narrowing of arteries that needs treatment
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) rubidium study – Measures blood flow through your heart with more sensitivity and provides better image resolution than standard nuclear technology
  • Multiple Gated Acquisition (MUGA) scan – Measures accurately and reliably how well your heart pumps blood during each heartbeat, which gives heart failure specialists important information to guide your therapy

Myocardial perfusion imaging is an outpatient procedure at the Heart Center at Meadowmont in Chapel Hill, or either outpatient or inpatient procedures at UNC Medical Center.

PET Scan

A PET scan is an imaging test revealing how your tissues and organs function. PET scans use a radioactive drug, called a tracer, injected into your blood stream. The tracer collects in areas of your body that show higher levels of chemical activity, which often correspond to areas of disease. On a PET scan, these areas show up as bright spots.

From PET scan results, your doctor can:

  • Determine decreased blood flow in the heart and the effects of a heart attack on areas of the heart
  • Decide if you might benefit from a noninvasive procedure or surgery.

Learn More

Learn about the differences among a PET, a cardiac CT and a cardiac MRI.

Contact Us

Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 866-862-4327 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

Open Access is a new physician referral service, created by the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, which coordinates all admissions and transfers through a single phone call and guarantees immediate acceptance for patients. Please contact us to learn more or call 866-862-4327.

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