Nuclear Medicine Myocardial Perfusion Scan

What is a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

A nuclear medicine myocardial perfusion scan is a diagnostic exam of the heart. This two part study examines the blood flow to the heart muscle. When the coronary arteries become blocked a number of symptoms can occur possibly leading to a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Under normal everyday activities, a person with mild or moderate coronary artery disease may not experience any symptoms. But if that person becomes physically or emotionally stressed, the heart may demand more blood than the coronary arteries are able to supply. This can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath or other symptoms.

How is the examination performed?

A registered Nuclear Medicine Technologist will perform your examination and can answer any questions you may have. This exam is performed by injecting a small, safe amount of radioactive tracer into an intravenous (IV) site in your hand or arm while your heart is at rest.

After waiting 30-60 minutes, your rest images are obtained on the nuclear camera. Your heart will be “stressed” by either walking on the treadmill or by getting a drug injected.  After waiting 30-60 minutes, a set of images will be obtained by the Technologist.

Who is a candidate for a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

Anyone experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, previously been diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD), for follow up to getting a coronary artery stent, history of diabetes, or even having an abnormal electrocardiogram (EKG). These are just some of the reasons for having this exam.

Will I need to prepare for the exam?

Yes, please eat a very light breakfast before your exam. DO NOT drink coffee or anything containing caffeine (even “caffeine free” has a small amount of caffeine). Please also refrain from smoking if you are a smoker. It will also be helpful if you do not wear any clothing with metal snaps, clips, or clasps in the chest area.

What will I experience?

Your Technologist will place a tourniquet on your arm and look for an appropriate IV access site. Once the IV site is secured, the Technologist will further explain the procedure, any imaging specific information, and ask you if you have any questions.  The Technologist will prepare the rest dose for injection, ask you your name and date of birth, and inject you. After 30-60 minutes, you will be placed on the imaging table and the rest images are started. This will last about 15 minutes. Following the rest images, you will be taken to the treadmill room for stress testing.

This can happen by walking on the treadmill or by giving you a drug. If you can walk the treadmill, you will be hooked up to the treadmill with a 12-lead EKG and will walk in an effort to reach 85% of your maximum heart rate, then the Technologist will inject you with the stress dose. The IV site will be removed if no problems were experienced, and after 30-60 minutes you will have your stress images.

What happens next?

Following the imaging, your IV will be removed. After your second set of images the exam is complete. Your images will be analyzed by the Technologist and the nuclear medicine computer and sent to the Radiologist’s computer for interpretation.

Your images will be interpreted by a State of New Mexico licensed and board certified Physician, Radiologist or Cardiologist, that specializes in radiology interpretation. A report will be dictated, transcribed, and faxed to the Physician that ordered your test.  Your Physician will receive the report within 24 hours and is responsible for notifying  you of the results.

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