Nuclear cardiology for a cardiothoracic surgeon

Indian J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 May;38(3):268-282. doi: 10.1007/s12055-021-01311-0. Epub 2022 Mar 1.


Cardiac surgeons are commonly faced with issues regarding the balance between the potential risk and the potential benefit of a surgical procedure. Nuclear cardiology procedures such as single-photon emission computed tomography and positron emission tomography provide the surgeon with objective information that augments standard clinical and angiographic assessments related to the diagnosis, prognosis, and potential benefit from any intervention. Myocardial perfusion is imaged with the use of radiopharmaceuticals that accumulate rapidly in the myocardium in proportion to the myocardial blood flow. Radionuclide lung imaging most commonly involves the demonstration of pulmonary perfusion using technetium-99 m macro aggregate albumin (Tc-99 m MAA), as well as the assessment of ventilation using inspired inert gas, usually xenon, or Tc-99 m-labelled aerosols. Nuclear cardiology is extensively used as a part of the work-up of ischemic heart disease and cardiac failure in deciding the optimal therapeutic strategy with its ability to predict the severity of the disease. It has also proved extremely useful in the management of congenital heart disease and the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, among many other applications. Myocardial perfusion imaging is a basic adjunct to the noninvasive assessment of patients with stable angina, baseline electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities, post-revascularisation assessment, and heart failure. This review article covers a summary of basic concepts of nuclear cardiology about what a cardiac surgeon should be aware of. To many, it is just a perfusion test, but the versatility, reliability, and future of the technology are without a doubt.

Keywords: Myocardial perfusion; Myocardial viability; Viability.

Publication types

  • Review