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Exercise Thallium

Definition
A thallium scan is a test that uses a radioactive substance (known as a tracer) to produce images of the heart muscle. When combined with an exercise test, the thallium scan helps determine if areas of the heart do not receive enough blood.

Purpose
The exercise, thallium test is especially useful in diagnosing coronary artery disease, the presence of blockages in the coronary arteries. These are the arteries that supply oxygen to the heart muscle. Tracers, other than thallium, can be used for this type of scan. Your CCND doctor will decide if your situation warrants a different type of tracer.

Before The Test
IF YOU ARE NURSING OR IF YOU THINK YOU MAY BE PREGNANT, INFORM THE CCND DOCTOR OR NUCLEAR TECH BEFORE THE EXAMINATION.
You will receive a specific instruction sheet that pertains
to the type of tracer your physician plans for you to have.
If you have any questions, please ask your doctor, or the
nuclear tech will be happy to assist you.
You may be asked to fast (not eat or drink anything) for
three to four hours or longer prior to your exam. If you
cannot fast, or are a diabetic, ask your CCND doctor or
nurse for special instructions.
You will be instructed not to have food or drink prior to
the test that contains caffeine. For example, coffee, tea,
colas (even "caffeine-free"), and chocolate foods all
contain different amounts of caffeine.
Be sure to notify our office nurse or nuclear tech of all the
medicines you are taking. Some medicines may affect the
test results.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing that is suitable for
exercise. You should also wear comfortable walking
shoes or tennis shoes.
Before the test, you will be given an explanation of the
test and you will be asked to sign a consent form. Feel
free to ask any questions about the procedure.

During The Test
The test has two parts: the exercise imaging portion and the rest imaging portion.
Several electrodes (small sticky patches) will be placed
on your chest to obtain an electrocardiogram (ECG).
This will record your heart's electrical activity.
An intravenous (IV) line will be started in a vein in your
arm. This will allow injection of the radioactive tracer
during exercise.
Depending on the type of exam that is ordered, you will
be exercising several minutes on a treadmill. If you
cannot walk on a treadmill, then a prescribed medication
will be injected over a several minute period. In either
case, the purpose is to increase the workload being
placed on your heart.
You will be instructed to report any symptoms, such as
chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness. Try to
exercise for as long as you are able to, as this will
increase the accuracy of the test.
Tell the nuclear technician when you are almost to the
point when you can no longer exercise. At this point, the
tracer will be injected into the intravenous line. You will
be asked to continue to exercise for another minute or so
after the injection.
Imaging portion: You will then lie flat on a special table
under a scanning camera. Several pictures of the heart
will be taken at various angles. You should remain still
while the pictures are being taken. This part can take up
to 20 minutes.
After this initial set of pictures, you will be asked to
return in 2 to 4 hours to have additional pictures taken
without repeating exercise. These images are compared
to the images obtained during the first part of the test.
The technician will give you specific instructions regarding
when to return, and what food you can eat.

After The Test
No sedation is given during this test, therefore, you will
be able to drive home directly after the test.
The CCND doctor conducting the test may be able to give
you preliminary results before you leave. However, a
complete interpretation usually takes several days.
In addition to being called, a copy of your test results is
sent to your referring physician.
This test generally provides more information than an
exercise stress test. This will help your doctor make an
accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that is
best for you.

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The information contained in this web site is presented for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute in any way a consultation with a physician or competent healthcare professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment.