Medical Imaging

Nuclear Medicine > Exams & Procedures > Dobutamine Myocardial Perfusion scan

This scan evaluates the blood flow to the heart at both rest and stress, as well as helps determine the overall function of the heart.

This scan involves two separate injections of a radioactive tracer into a vein, one at rest and one during a Dobutamine stress test that simulates exercise. Each injection is followed by a set of pictures that determine tracer distribution in the heart.

You will be given Dobutamine to mimic the effects of exercise on the heart. Dobutamine is a drug that increases your heart rate and makes your heart contract more forcefully. Dobutamine may or may not cause side effects. Dobutamine has the potential to cause heart flutter, chest discomfort, or flushing. Dobutamine does not last very long and any symptoms you may experience disappear rapidly once Dobutamine infusion is stopped.

Preparation

  • No coffee, tea, or caffeine products for 24 hours prior to the test.
  • No food or drink for two hours prior to the test.
  • No beta-blocker medications for 48 hours prior to the test unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • Bring a list of all medications and supplements you take. This includes vitamins, herbal remedies, and holistic medications.
  • Do not bring children or pregnant women with you to the department. We do not want to expose them to unnecessary radiation.
  • Any of these procedures is subject to change according to the nuclear medicine physician. The duration of the tests is a rough estimate. Please be aware that the time may be lengthened if a scan has to be repeated, if emergency cases are brought to the department or due to unforeseen circumstances.

About the Procedure

The procedure takes about three hours.

Rest Injection and Scan
  • A technologist will briefly explain the test to you and try to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
  • A technologist will ask you a few questions about your medical history and medications.
  • Patients that have had a previous heart attack and that use nitroglycerine to relieve angina symptoms will receive one spray of nitroglycerin before the injection of the tracer.
  • A technologist will give you an injection of the tracer into a vein.
  • There will be a 45 to 60 minute wait before pictures.
  • You will be asked to change into exercise clothes if you have brought them, otherwise you will be asked to undress from the waist up and be given a hospital gown to wear.
  • A technologist will place electrode stickers on your chest to allow us to monitor your heart rate throughout the test.
  • You will be asked to lie down on a bed and wires will be connected to the electrode stickers.
  • Your arms will be placed above your head and cameras will be positioned around your heart.
  • Pictures will be taken for about 15 minutes. It is very important that you do not move during these pictures because movement blurs the pictures and they will have to be taken again.
    Dobutamine Stress Injection and Scan
  • You will be asked to lie down on a bed and wires will be connected to the electrode stickers.
  • A technologist will set up a temporary intravenous access in an arm vein.
  • Once prepared you will be given a calculated amount of dobutamine over a period of 12 minutes.
  • When you heart rate reaches a specific level of exercise you will receive the second injection of the tracer.
  • You will be monitored for an additional five minutes.
  • You will be asked to lie down on an imaging bed and wires will be connected to the electrode stickers.
  • Your arms will be placed above your head and cameras will be positioned around your heart.
  • Pictures will be taken for about 20 minutes. It is very important that you do not move during these pictures because movement blurs the pictures and they will have to be taken again.
Redistribution Scan
  • After your break, the pictures will be repeated as they were before.
  • You will be asked to lie down on an imaging bed.
  • Your arms will be placed above your head and cameras will be positioned around your heart.
  • Pictures will be taken for about 30 minutes. It is very important that you do not move during these pictures because movement blurs the pictures and they will have to be taken again.

Possible Adverse Effects

Dobutamine may or may not cause side effects. Dobutamine has the potential to cause heart flutter, chest discomfort, or flushing. Dobutamine does not last very long and any symptoms you may experience disappear rapidly once Dobutamine infusion is stopped.

Any medical test involves some degree of risk. The possibility of suffering a heart attack from this test is minimal, but possible. Our highly trained staff and doctors are readily at hand to assist you if needed.