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Nuclear Medicine

Heart Scans 

What is a Nuclear Medicine Cardiac Scan?

A myocardial perfusion SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) study is also called a cardiac stress-rest test.  It is used to identify abnormal blood flow to the heart, to determine the extent of damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack, and/or to measure heart function. This is a two part test done over a 2 day period.

How do I Prepare for this Test?

The first appointment consists of the rest test. Patients are not to have any caffeine before the scheduled test time.  If you have questions about your medications, please check with your doctor prior to testing.

The second appointment is the stress portion of the test. Patients are not to eat, drink or smoke after midnight the evening prior to the test.  If you have questions about your medications, please check with your doctor prior to testing.

What to Expect During the Cardiac Scan?

For the rest test, you will be injected with a radiotracer. There will be approximately a 45 minute delay between the time of injection and the scan the scan takes 20-25 minutes to complete.

Day 2 requires a stress test prior to imaging which consists of an IV started and walking on a treadmill while being monitored by a Cardiologist and an EKG Technologist.  A drug can be used if you have limited exercise capability. You will be given another injection of the radiotracer while you are on the treadmill.  Images will be taken approximately 30 minutes after completion of the exercise test. These images take approximately 25 minutes.

 A radiotracer is a compound made of a radioactive isotope and a pharmaceutical agent. The radioactive isotope releases energy detected by a special camera called a gamma camera where digital signals are produced, creating an image and stored by a computer. The image shows any area with abnormal blood flow indicating a problem. During a Cardiac Scan you will be asked to lie down on a scanning table and remain very still while the images are being obtained.

Please allow 2 hours each day of testing.

Our Nuclear Medicine technologists will talk to you in detail about what you can expect before, during and after the procedure and answer any questions you may have.

Because patient care is our top priority, we employ equipment and quality control as well as radiopharmaceutical quality assurance to insure that we are producing the highest image quality for both interpretation and diagnosis.

Risks of the Test

Be sure to notify the technologist if there is any chance you may be pregnant. Radionuclides are unlikely to cause side effects or allergic reactions for most patients.

Following the Test

There are no restrictions following the test. You may return to your regular activity after the scan is complete.

Results of the Test

Your ordering physician will receive the results in 24-48 hours. It is important to discuss the results of your scan with your ordering physician.