St Vincent's Clinic Medical Imaging & Nuclear Medicine

Myocardial Perfusion / Rest / Stress Scan

A myocardial perfusion scan looks at the blood flow to your heart muscle.

What will happen when you have your Myocardial Perfusion Scan

There are 2 main parts to a Myocardial Perfusion Scan:

  1. Part 1.
    The Nuclear Medicine Technologist will place a small cannula into a vein in your arm and give you an injection of a ‘tracer’ that looks at the blood flow to your heart muscle at ‘rest’ or as it functions normally everyday. Once this injection is given a scan of your heart will be taken for approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Part 2.

    The second part of the test looks at the blood flow to your heart muscle at ‘stress’ or when it is working under pressure.

    You will be connected to an ECG machine and a blood pressure monitor whilst on a treadmill. You will begin by walking at a slow pace and every 3 minutes the speed and inclination of the treadmill will increase. If for any reason you cannot exercise, the test can be done using a medication to simulate exercise. This medication is called Adenosine and is given as an infusion into the cannula over 4 minutes. Most people have minimal side effects from this medication, usually a slight headache, flushing and sometimes angina.

    Just before the exercise or the medication is about to finish, you will be given another injection of ‘tracer’ through the cannula in your arm.

    This ‘stress’ procedure should take approximately 30 minutes to complete and when it is finished you will be able to have something to eat and drink (including tea or coffee) and return to the Nuclear Medicine Department for another scan of your heart. This scan will take approximately 15minutes.

What you need to do and how to prepare for the test

You may be required to wear a gown for this scan. The scan is performed with the Gamma Camera close to your body but you do not go through a “tunnel”.

  • You may be in the department for approximately 4 hours
  • Please inform staff if you are or could be pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Wear comfortable clothes to exercise in
  • Bring all your medications with you to the test
  • Bring any previous relevant x-rays or scans with you to the test
  • No caffeine for 24 hours prior to your appointment. This includes tea, coffee, chocolate and soft drinks.
  • Non diabetic patients: Fast from midnight the night prior to the scan. You may have water.
  • Insulin dependant diabetic patients: Light breakfast (toast+juice) with half your insulin dose then fast for 4hrs prior to the scan. You may have water.
  • Non insulin dependant diabetic patients: Fast from midnight the night prior to the scan and withhold diabetic medications on the morning of the test. You may have water.
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