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Opportunities During Studying Nuclear Cardiology Fellowship

What is nuclear cardiology?

Nuclear cardiology uses non-invasive techniques to analyze myocardial blood flow, evaluate the hearts pumping function and visualize the size of a heart attack as well as its location. Myocardial perfusion imaging is the most widely used among the nuclear cardiology techniques. Myocardial perfusion imaging is a form of a stress test. A small amount of imaging agent is injected into the bloodstream during periods of rest and during periods of activity and then the difference in blood flow can be measured. Positron emission tomography (PET) is another frequently used imaging procedure. PET uses a imaging device, the PET scanner, and a radio-tracer that is injected into the bloodstream. PET scans are able to help determine the extent of coronary artery disease by differentiating between normal and scarred heart muscle and pinpointing areas of decreased blood flow. Information provided by PET scans help doctors evaluate various available treatment options. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is another nuclear cardiology imaging technology that creates three dimensional images of the area being studied. Myocardial perfusion imaging, PET and SPECT are all considered nuclear cardiology imaging techniques because the imaging agent or radio tracer that is injected into the body is slightly radioactive. Nuclear medicine and molecular imaging are related with nuclear medicine being considered part of molecular imaging. A nuclear cardiology fellowship teaches the fellow the various techniques used in nuclear cardiology or cardiovascular imaging.

Nuclear cardiology fellowship requirements

Nuclear cardiology is non-invasive cardiovascular imaging technique with certification being done by the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology(ASNC). However the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF), the American Heart Association (AHA), and American College of Physicians (ACP) have written a suggested set of clinical competency criteria to cover all non-invasive cardiovascular imaging techniques. Three levels of expertise are currently defined for training in cardiovascular imaging and the are as follows:

  • Level 1- Basic level of training required of all trainees to be competent consultant cardiologists. This level will make all trainees conversant with all imaging modalities along with their clinical utility. It provides superficial exposure to performance and interpretation of all modalities.
  • Level 2- Additional training that provides the cardiologist the necessary skills and training to interpret cardiovascular imaging studies independently.
  • Level 3 Advanced training that enables the cardiologist to perform and interpret and teach others to perform and interpret specific imaging studies at the highest skill level. This would be the expertise expected for directors of imaging laboratories.

Future of nuclear cardiology

Nuclear cardiology and other cardiovascular imaging techniques are all making advancements, and it is unclear as of yet how accreditation will end up and what all requirements will be. As the various imaging fields advance it becomes more difficult to fit them into a three year cardiovascular disease program. As of yet completion of a nuclear cardiology fellowship is not necessary to get a working accreditation, but the benefits of nuclear imaging will ensure it remains in use. Besides, you may know more about cardiology fellowship personal statement on our site.