Cardiac complications are increasingly becoming a mainstay in our lives. Each year, the number of people suffering from these, particularly cardiac arrests, is increasing alarmingly. In light of this, it is necessary to be informed about cardiac diagnostic procedures that could be of assistance.
Technetium heart scan is one such diagnostic procedure. This is a non-invasive procedure that is most often conducted immediately after a heart attack. This is a nuclear scan that utilizes radioactive isotopes to examine blood flow, post a heart attack. A technetium heart scan can confirm if a patient experienced heart attack symptoms prior to the attack. It can also determine the location and severity of the attack, thereby offering information that will prove useful for a patient’s post-attack prognosis. This scan is also conducted to evaluate heart condition pre and post heart surgery.
Technetium heart scan, as mentioned above, is a nuclear scan, which means it uses a radioactive isotope, which targets your heart. A radionuclide detector in the equipment measures the absorption of the isotope. The patient will be made to lie flat on the back and an IV line will be attached to a vein in the arm. The radioactive isotope is injected in the vein. This is absorbed by healthy tissues in a certain time at a specific rate. Once absorbed, the camera (detector) will trace the gamma rays. Technetium heart scans are usually conducted 12 hours or so after a cardiac arrest. It is also conducted in patients who may only have chest pain that needn’t necessarily culminate in a heart attack. In the latter cases, a technetium heart scan has actually proved very useful as it could accurately determine if the chest pain would result in a heart attack.
If the technetium heart scan is normal it means that there was no trace of technetium in the heart. In case of an abnormal heart scan, there will be hot spots in the heart indicating damage. The patient’s heart prognosis depends upon the size of the hot spots. If these spots are large, it would be indicative of a poor prognosis. A technetium heart scan is best backed by an echocardiogram as well as blood work report, as these three put together assists a cardiologist in determining the appropriate treatment and healthcare.
There is a certain amount of risk involved for those allergic to isotopes, and in fact, in such a scenario, this scan is not recommended. However, for the rest, being non-invasive, a technetium heart scan poses no risk. The technetium injected into the body for the scan is eliminated through natural functions within in a few days.