Myocardial Perfusion Scan

A myocardial perfusion scan is a test that helps your doctor see if you have coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart muscle. If the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen, it can cause chest pain, also known as “angina.”

myocardial perfusion scan shows blood flow in the heart during excercise and at rest

Imaging blood flow in the heart

Test Preparation

  • Nothing to eat or drink for four hours prior to the test.
  • Do not eat or drink anything containing caffeine for 24 hours before both stress and rest studies. This includes coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, pain medications with caffeine (check labels). Also decaffeinated products are not permitted.
  • Wear shoes and clothing suitable for exercise (e.g. flat shoes with non-slip soles).
  • If you are diabetic and are unable to fast for the full four hours, you may eat a light meal up to two hours prior to the test.
  • Please ask the doctor who ordered this test for instructions about stopping any medications that you are taking.

Exam Procedure

During the test, radioactive tracers are used to take pictures of the heart. These tracers are injected into your bloodstream and travel to the heart muscle through the coronary arteries. The pictures we then take of your heart will help your doctor decide if you have coronary artery disease.

Your procedure will have two parts:

  1. Pictures of your heart following the stress test.
  2. Pictures of your heart during rest (rest pictures may take place before or after the stress portion).

Stress Test

You will have an intravenous line inserted in your arm. You will be asked to walk on a treadmill for a period of time. Those patients who are not able to walk on a treadmill will be given a drug (Persantine or Dobutamine), which stresses your heart without exercise. A radioactive tracer will be injected through the intravenous line. You will be monitored throughout the stress test (blood pressure, and ECG tracings of the heart). You will have pictures taken of your heart

shortly after your stress test.

Rest Test

You will have a radioactive tracer injected into a vein in your arm. One hour after the injection, pictures will be taken of your heart.

Once both sets of images have been completed, the nuclear medicine physician will compare the images of your heart after stress with the images of your heart at rest.