Nuclear cardiologists have trained to utilize radioactive materials and medical imaging modalities to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients suffering from cardiac disorders, such as an irregular heartbeat.
Nuclear cardiologists are highly trained physicians capable of utilizing a variety of advanced medical imaging modalities in order to evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage heart conditions. These physicians are trained to utilize non- and minimally-invasive techniques to understand and diagnose a wide range of disorders affecting the heart. Radioactive imaging and related procedures are often preferred to more invasive procedures, as they require minimal recovery time and provide highly accurate results.
When evaluating patients suffering from heart disorders, nuclear cardiologists attempt to gain as much insight as possible into the functioning of the heart and its related structures. During diagnostic procedures, these physicians are able to evaluate the heart’s ability to pump blood and determine the level of myocardial blood flow, in addition to definitively locating and sizing occurrences of heart attacks. To perform these and similar evaluations, nuclear cardiologists may employ myocardial perfusion imaging.
Additionally, nuclear cardiologists may employ positron emission tomography (PET) evaluations to measure and document the metabolic status and activity of the heart, in addition to gathering information about the patient’s blood supply. To assess and evaluate cardiac function, nuclear cardiologists may employ radionuclide ventriculography procedures, which are non-invasive in nature, and allow the physician to further understand the heart’s functioning with regard to pumping blood. After evaluating the results of these and other diagnostic procedures, the nuclear cardiologist may consult with the patient’s cardiologist, cardiac surgeon, interventional cardiologist, or other healthcare providers to assist in the development of a personalized treatment plan.
Physicians trained in nuclear cardiology are typically required to complete up to 8 years of secondary education along with a residency program at an accredited institution. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree, they must finish four years of study at a Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredited university.
Nuclear cardiologists then must enter into a nuclear cardiology residency program which has been certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education which typically last one to two years. A student nuclear cardiology resident is expected to obtain certain skills before finishing their fellowship, including how to properly handle radioactive materials, a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of nuclear cardiology, and the interpretation of many different diagnostic imaging tests.
After the completion of a residency or fellowship, a nuclear cardiologist may seek to obtain certification from the Certification Board of Nuclear Cardiology.