Nuclear Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions

Select question:

Is it ok to be around children after my exam?

You should not be around babies or small children for the rest of the day because you do have residual radiation from your exam. This is especially important if you are having a nuclear stress test.

What am I injected with?

For all nuclear medicine exams a radioactive material, also known as an isotope or tracer, is injected.

Are there any side effects from the injection?

There are no side effects or allergic reactions to the radioactive materal. When a patient cannot walk well enough on the treadmill, a medication (vasodilator) is used to simulate exercise by dilating blood vessels.

Common side effects:

  • headache
  • flushed feeling

The cardiologist can give an "anecdotal" medication if needed.

How long will I be on the treadmill?

There is not a set time limit. You must reach 85% maximum heart rate.

Will I have to run on the treadmill?

Perhaps, but usually a fast walk is enough.

What does the treadmill show?

The cardiologist views your EKG as you are walking to see how your heart responds to physical activity; including your blood pressure and heart rate.

Who reads the results and how do I get them?

A cardiologist interprets the stress test and a nuclear medicine radiologist reads the image scan. You are able to obtain your results from your referring physician within 48-72 hours.

Why do I have to stop caffeine?

Caffeine affects your heart rate and the blood flow to your heart; it can adversely affect the image.

Are decaffeinated beverages allowed?

No. Decaffeinated beverages are not caffeine free. Various brands have different levels of caffeine, so they are not allowed.

How long does the injection stay in my system?

The nuclear imaging agent is out of your system within 60 hours, but it is always decaying so it becomes minimal in a relatively short period of time.

What if I cannot walk on the treadmill?

There is a medication called Persantine that will be injected into you. This medication simulates exercise by dilating blood vessels to the heart without having to go on the treadmill.

Will I be able to drive after?


Will I be able to go to work after?

Yes, you will be able to resume your normal activities after your exam.

Why does the nuclear stress test take so long?

There are three parts to the test, a resting scan, a stress test and a stress scan. There are waiting times between injections and the stress test.