What happens during a resting radionuclide angiogram (RNA)?

A resting radionuclide angiogram (RNA) -- a type of nuclear medicine procedure that evaluates the heart's chambers in motion -- may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your physician's practices. Generally, a resting RNA follows this process:

1. You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the procedure.

2. If you are asked to remove clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.

3. An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your hand or arm.

4. You will be connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine with electrodes (leads) and a blood pressure cuff will be attached to your arm.

5. You will lie flat on a table in the procedure room.

6. The radionuclide (radioactive tracer) will be injected into the vein to "tag" the red blood cells. Alternatively, a small amount of blood will be withdrawn from your vein so that it can be tagged with the radionuclide. The radionuclide will be added to the blood and will be absorbed into the red blood cells.

7. After the tagging procedure, the blood will be returned into your vein through the IV tube. The progress of the tagged red blood cells through your heart will be traced with a scanner.

8. During the procedure, it will be very important for you to lie as still as possible, as any movement can adversely affect the quality of the scan.

9. The gamma camera will be positioned over you as you lie on the table, and will obtain images of the heart as it pumps the blood through your body.

10. You may be asked to change positions during the test; however, once you have changed position, you will need to lie still without talking.

11. After the scan is complete, the IV line will be discontinued, and you will be allowed to leave, unless your physician instructs you differently.