What to Expect During a Myocardial Perfusion Imaging Study

This exam has 3 basic components:

  • Pre-stress image
  • Stress testing
  • Post-stress image

An I.V. will be placed in your arm or hand. A small amount of radioactive tracer will then be injected through this i.v. The patient will then wait 30 minutes before imaging begins.

At this time, you may consume some water, juice, or milk.

If you is unable to walk on a treadmill, it is a good idea to consume only a small amount of liquid at this time. You will then be placed on the camera (gamma camera), and the camera will slowly move around your chest and torso for about 20 minutes. This will provide a baseline image for the exam.

Once the imaging is complete and the technologist has verified the images are technically adequate, you will go to the cardiac stress lab.

You will be prepped by placing several electrodes on the chest and torso area. Wires will then be connected to these electrodes so that the supervising nurse practitioner or cardiologist visualizes a continuous electrocardiogram (EKG) while performing the stress portion of the exam.

In addition, you also will be connected to a blood pressure monitor and an oxygen saturation monitor during the stress exam. You will then undergo the treadmill test to achieve a specific target heart rate (based upon age) and the radiotracer is injected once again.

If you are not a suitable candidate for the treadmill exam, other options include pharmaceutical agents that dilate the arteries (vasodilators), or agents that increase oxygen demand to the heart (ino/chronotropic agents). You will then undergo a “recovery” period after the stress to make sure all vital signs are back to normal before proceeding to the last portion of the exam.

In the last portion of the exam you will go back under the camera for another 20 minute set of images. This set of images will be compared to the first set of images and interpreted by a radiologist.

The electrocardiogram (EKG) that was performed during the stress portion of the exam will be interpreted by a cardiologist.

You will be able to resume normal activity after the exam.

Time Consideration

The entire test takes 2½ to 3 hours to complete (not including admissions time).