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Myocardial perfusion is an imaging test. It’s also called a nuclear stress test. It is done to show how well blood flows through the heart muscle. It also shows how well the heart muscle is pumping. For example, after a heart attack, it may be done to find areas of damaged heart muscle.
A myocardial perfusion scan uses a tiny amount of a radioactive substance called a radioactive tracer. The tracer travels through the bloodstream and is absorbed by the healthy heart muscle. On the scan, the areas where tracer has been absorbed look different from the areas that do not absorb it. Areas that are damaged or don’t have good blood flow do not absorb tracer.
A stress myocardial perfusion scan assesses blood flow to the heart muscle when it is stressed. The heart can be stressed with exercise or if unable to exercise a medication can be used.
After the radioactive tracer is injected, a special type of camera is used that can detect the radioactive energy being released. You will be imaged at rest and then again after your heart has been stressed. The two sets of images are then compared.
Your doctor may order a stress myocardial perfusion scan for:
Generally, a stress myocardial perfusion scan follows this process:
Three to four hours
Drink plenty of fluids and empty your bladder often for 24 to 48 hours after the test. This helps flush the remaining radioactive tracer from your body. When the test is complete, a cardiologist will review your results and enter them into your electronic medical record. Your primary physician will then be notified of the results. The testing staff will be unable to provide you with your results.
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