Medical Imaging

Nuclear Medicine > Exams & Procedures > Exercise Myocardial Perfusion scan

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

The scan involves two separate injections of a radioactive tracer into a vein, one at rest and one during exercise. Each injection is followed by a set of pictures that determine tracer distribution to the heart according to blood flow.

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 are taken.
  • 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 it blurs the pictures and they will have to be taken again.
Exercise Stress Injection and Scan
  • After the first set of pictures you will move on to the stress test.
  • A technologist will set up a temporary intravenous access in an arm vein.
  • Wires will again be attached to the electrode stickers on your chest.
  • Once prepared you will be walking on the treadmill. Every three minutes the treadmill will become a little bit faster and steeper.
  • When you heart rate reaches a specific level of exercise you will receive the second injection of the tracer and the exercise will be done.
  • You are given a 30 minute break before the second set of pictures.
  • 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.

Possible Adverse Effects

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.