Nuclear Stress Test Cost

A nuclear stress test consists of a treadmill stress test and imaging tests. Before the imaging procedures, a radioactive dye is administered intravenously. Thereafter, a special camera is used to observe the blood flow to the heart during rest and physical exertion. This HealthHearty article provides information on the cost of a nuclear stress test.
HealthHearty Staff
The incidence of heart disease has increased considerably. This can be attributed to unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, etc. Also, one might be at a risk, if one has a family history of heart disease. There are certain diagnostic procedures that can help ascertain the condition of the heart. A nuclear stress test is one of these imaging procedures. Basically, this test comprises a treadmill test, and tests wherein the images of heart are observed at rest and after physical activity.
How Much Does a Nuclear Stress Test Cost
A nuclear stress test can be expensive. On an average, this test costs around USD 2,000. At times, the cost could go up to USD 5,000. Basically, the high cost can be attributed to the expensive medical equipment that is required for this imaging procedure. Also, there are others aspects that contribute to the overall cost of the test. These include:
  • Technician's fee
  • Cardiologist's consultation fee
  • Hospital charges
  • Cost of the equipment and radioactive substance
Also, the cost would vary widely across geographic regions, and hospitals in urban or metropolitan areas are likely to charge higher than those in rural areas. Since all imaging procedures are not covered by insurance, it is advisable to consult your health insurance company to find out if this test is covered or not. Discuss with your doctor to ascertain what may or may not be covered by insurance, and the possible charges that you will incur. You can look for physicians and hospitals that offer discounts to patients who do not have health insurance. Also, some hospitals might have a financial assistance program for patients who are uninsured.
Nuclear stress test, which is also called thallium stress test, helps detect abnormalities related to the structure of the heart. This test provides more information than the basic treadmill test or stress echocardiogram. This test involves the intravenous administration of a radioactive substance (tracer).
After the radioactive substance is administered, the patient is asked to lie on a table. He/she has to remain very still. A large scanner that contains a gamma camera is moved over the body. This camera takes pictures of the heart and veins. EKG leads are put on the patient's chest.
In case of the treadmill test, the patient has to walk on the treadmill using a standard exercise protocol. Electrodes are attached to leads, which are attached to an electrocardiogram. This helps the doctors monitor the heart rhythm. The blood pressure, as well as the heart rhythm has to be monitored throughout the test. When a certain target heart rate is reached, the radioactive substance is administered. The patient has to continue to walk on the treadmill for another minute, so that the radioactive substance gets circulated. Thereafter, the gamma camera is used for viewing the heart and the blood flow. The nuclear stress test is similar to an echo stress test, but the former involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to monitor the heart. These images are compared with the images that were taken when the patient was resting. Light spots indicate inadequate blood flow to the heart.
On a concluding note, a nuclear stress test is expensive, as the equipment has to be handled by specialized professionals, and the test results need to be analyzed by a cardiologist. Moreover, the equipment is expensive. However, if you have to get this test done, get a correct estimate from a cardiologist. Also, it is best to get advice from your doctor to know if you need to undergo a nuclear stress test in the first place.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only. The costs are subject to change and might differ from region to region.