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Nuclear medicine99mTc ("m" indicates that this is a metastable nuclear isomer) is used in radioactive isotope medical tests, for example as a radioactive tracer that medical equipment can detect in the human body. It is well suited to the role because it emits readily detectable 140 keV gamma rays, and its half-life is 6.01 hours (meaning that about fifteen sixteenths of it decays to 99Tc in 24 hours). Klaus Schwochau's book Technetium lists 31 radiopharmaceuticals based on 99mTc for imaging and functional studies of the brain, myocardium, thyroid, lungs, liver, gallbladder, kidneys, skeleton, blood, and tumors.
Pharmacological stress in conjunction with radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging has become a widely used noninvasive method of assessing patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease. In the United States, over one third of perfusion imaging studies are performed with pharmacological stress. Pharmacological stress agents fall into two categories: coronary vasodilating agents such as dipyridamole and adenosine, and cardiac positive inotropic agents such as dobutamine and arbutamine. For both, in the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD), perfusion image abnormalities result from heterogeneity of coronary blood flow reserve. Vasodilating agents work directly on the coronary vessels to increase blood flow, whereas inotropic agents work indirectly by increasing myocardial work load, which then leads to an increase in coronary blood flow. Both classes of agents have high accuracies for diagnosing coronary artery disease, and they have excellent safety records with acceptably low occurrences of side effects.