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Thallium stress test

Preparing for Vascular ProceduresCardiac catheterization labCardiolite stress test
Electrocardiography (Pediatric and Adult)Event recorderHolter monitoring (Pediatric and Adult)
Stress testing (Pediatric and Adult)Thallium stress testTilt table testing
Transesophageal echocardiogram

What is the thallium stress test?

This imaging test shows how well blood flows to the heart muscle. Thallium contains a very small amount of radioactivity that can be detected by a special camera. This camera will take pictures of the thallium as it travels through the heart.

Why do I need it?

This test is performed to determine if there are any blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

How do I prepare for the test?

You may not have anything by mouth for 4 hours prior to the test. Talk to your physician about any medications you are taking prior to the procedure.

How is a thallium stress test performed?

Two sets of images will be created of your heart, one while at rest and a second after the heart is stressed. Here's how it works:

  • The procedure begins with the placement of an IV needle into a vein in your hand or arm. Twelve electrodes are attached to your chest to enable monitoring of your heart rate. You will be asked to walk on a treadmill to stress your heart.
  • Those who cannot walk on a treadmill will receive a medication to stress the heart without exercise.
  • Once you have reached a peak exercise or stress level, a small amount of thallium, the radioactive material, is injected into your IV. The thallium will have no effect on how you feel.
  • You will then lie on a special table for images of your heart. Your left arm will be placed above your head. A camera that can detect radioactivity will be positioned above your chest and will move from your right to left side. Nothing will touch you. It is very important that you do not move while images are being made.
  • After the pictures are completed, the nuclear medicine physician will decide if any more pictures are needed.

For the second set of images:

  • You will return later that same day for the next set of images to be taken.
  • When you return, you will receive an injection in the vein of your arm. You'll wait approximately 20 minutes.
  • Pictures will then be taken of your heart at rest.

After the procedure is complete, a nuclear medicine physician will study the pictures along with your medical history to make an assessment of what the images show. He will dictate a report that will be forwarded to your physician within 5 to 7 business days. Your doctor may also contact the nuclear medicine physician on the day of the exam to get the results.

How do I make an appointment?

Your doctor will write an order or prescription for the test. The doctor will either give you the order or have it faxed to the hospital. You may then schedule your appointment by calling 847.723.5050.

For more information about the procedure, please call the Heart Station Department at 847.723.5480. 

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Reducing your risk for heart disease

  • Don't smoke
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly
  • Reduce your intake of fats and cholesterol
  • Maintain your ideal weight
  • Exercise regularly according to your physician's guidelines 


Our goal is to provide you with excellent care. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:
Janet Duval, RN, BSN
Manager, Non-invasive Cardiovascular Diagnostics

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