Nuclear Cardiology

Richard Thompson pioneered nuclear cardiac studies at Wellington Hospital in 1979, the first such studies in New Zealand .   The gated blood-pool scan, was obtained after injection of Technetium and scanning the heart, both at rest and during exercise.   Exercise was performed on an exercycle, provided by the Cardiology Department (previously used for stress ECGs prior to the acquisition of a treadmill).
This was the first time dynamic assessment of LV function had been possible, and Richard utilised the technology to investigate patients with aortic and mitral regurgitation.

Thallium scans allowed an assessment of myocardial perfusion, again at rest and post exercise, but suffered limitations due to the short half-life of the isotope.

When Tc99 sestamibi became available, with a significantly longer half-life than Thallium, myocardial perfusion imaging improved.

With improvements in echocardiography, and especially with the arrival of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear cardiology studies are now infrequently undertaken.