Nuclear Studies

Nuclear stress tests are similar to the treadmill test but also provide images of the heart taken under a special camera. Showing the relative amounts of an injected radioisotope within the heart muscle, the nuclear stress tests more accurately identify regional areas of reduced blood flow.

nuclear stress test procedures: 3-D heart illustration


What to Expect

We will be using a nuclear isotope. THIS IS NOT A DYE and should not cause any side effects or reactions. It is a small amount of radiation, comparable to a series of chest x-rays.

This is a TWO-PART TEST. We will be doing a resting portion and a stress portion. THE LENGTH OF THE TEST WILL BE APPROXIMATELY 3 TO 4 HOURS. We suggest you bring reading material if desired.

You will be asked to provide information on CURRENT MEDICINES you take and other medical information before proceeding with the exam. The technician will start an I.V. in your hand or arm. You will be injected with the first dose of isotope and prepped by having electrodes placed on your chest.

We will take resting images. When they are completed you will be asked to wait before beginning the stress portion of the test.

For the stress portion of the test you will EITHER WALK ON THE TREADMILL OR YOU WILL HAVE A PHARMOLOGICAL STRESS TEST, depending on what your physician ordered.

If you are walking on the treadmill we will be looking for a target heart rate, which is based on your age. At that time we will inject the second isotope and you will walk for one more minute. The technician will monitor you closely during the test.

We will take the second set of images next. When these images are completed you will be done with the test. BEFORE YOU LEAVE you will be asked to stop at the front desk to check out. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENT, ONE WILL BE MADE FOR YOU AT THIS TIME.


  1. Have a light meal prior to your appointment. (Unless you are scheduled for an Abdominal Ultrasound on the same day. If you are having an Abdominal Ultrasound, you must remain to fast until your abdomen has been scanned).
  2. No caffeine or decaffeinated beverages 12 hours before the test. This includes all sodas, coffee, tea, chocolate or Excedrin. (Please check labels to see if something contains caffeine if you’re not sure.) Important – If you consume caffeine the morning of your nuclear study, we will have to cancel your test and reschedule it. There will be a $200 charge for the wasted radionuclides.
  3. No tobacco products after midnight.
  4. Take all of your medications as you normally would unless the physician advised you otherwise.
  5. Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit and appropriate shoes for walking. (Jogging suits, shorts, and tennis shoes).Clothing with buttons and clips are OK to wear, however, do not wear any other large external items around your chest (medallions, prosthetics, brooches and pins).
  6. If for any reason you cannot keep this appointment, please give us a 24-hour notice to avoid being charged a $200 no-show fee. You can call 602.867.8644 to reschedule or cancel.
  7. Please remember that the test takes 3-4 hours, so you should bring a snack with you.
  8. Please let us know if you are claustrophobic.
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