Radionuclide Angiography

Submitted on March 27, 2012

A resting radionuclide angiogram or RNA is a nuclear medicine procedure. A small amount of radioactive material, known as a radionuclide (radioactive tracer or radiopharmaceutical), will be used while examining the tissue. The RNA is useful in checking if the chambers of the heart are in motion.

In this procedure, a radionuclide, which is generally technetium, is injected in a vein in the arm to tag the blood cells. This way, the progress of the cells through the heart, can be traced with a scanner. A gamma camera will record the way the heart wall works and synchronize it with the heartbeat with an electrocardiogram or ECG.

If the muscle of the heart does not move in a regular manner or is pumping less blood, then it shows that:

  • The heart muscle is injured because of less blood being pumped into it, something that can happen because of clogged coronary arteries.
  • One or more of the chambers of the heart are enlarged.
  • There is an aneurysm.
  • Some medicines have a toxic effect.

An exercise electrocardiogram or resting, cardiac catheterization, signal-averaged ECG, Holter monitor, echocardiography, computed tomography or CT scan, chest x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiological studies, echocardiography, ultrafast CT scan, and myocardial perfusion scans are some of the other tests that might need to be done.

Coronary Heart Disease

This is a heart problem where the coronary arteries become narrow and is caused because of a deposit of fatty material on the walls of the arteries. This causes the arteries to become narrow and rough, and limits the supply of blood enriched with oxygen to the heart muscle. As the blood supply begins to decrease because of a blockage in the coronary artery, a heart attack may happen. If the flow of blood cannot be restored, then the tissue dies.

The flow of blood can be restored when doctors diagnose coronary artery blockage, and RNA is one of the ways of diagnosis.

Reasons for Test

The reasons why someone might get a radionuclide angiography done are: fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain. A RNA is also done if the ECG shows some kind of heart disease that needs further tests.

If a screening examination (such as an ECG) suggests a possibility of some type of heart disease process that needs to be explored further, a resting RNA may be performed.

Risks of RNA

Only a small amount of radionuclide is used for RNA and you do not need to worry about radioactive exposure. The injection used in the procedure can cause discomfort.