Health Care Imaging

Myocardial Perfusion Scan

What is Nuclear Medicine?

Nuclear medicine is a safe and non-invasive imaging test providing information about both the function and anatomy of the human body. The test involves the administration of a small dose of radiation to a patient, in order to detect a wide array of pathologies and conditions.

Unlike x-rays, which use external radiation to examine internal organs, nuclear medicine uses small amounts of injected, inhaled or ingested radiation to produce diagnostic images.

What is a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

A Myocardial Perfusion scan, also known as MIBI, MPS or Thallium scan, evaluates coronary artery disease by assessing the blood flow to the heart muscle both at rest and at stress.

The scan involves the use of an injected radioisotope and a dedicated SPECT/CT camera. After the radioisotope has been intravenously injected, the camera is used to produce images of the heart. These images show both the condition and function of the heart during stress testing (both at rest and stress).

What conditions can be diagnosed by a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

Myocardial Perfusion scan can be used to:

  • Evaluate blood flow to the heart muscle
  • Check for heart disease
  • Determine whether there is any damage to the heart

What are the risks and complications of a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

Clinical stress testing is usually performed on patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease. While every effort will be made to minimise the risks of the procedure, there is a small risk of complication. A detailed information sheet will be provided prior to the test, and our Imaging Specialist will go through the risks in detail prior to commencing the procedure.

What are the equipment needed for a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

The following equipment are used in a Myocardial Perfusion scan:

  • Dedicated SPECT/CT gamma camera
  • Radioisotope
  • Treadmill/Exercise bike
  • ECG machine

Are there alternatives to a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

The following procedures are potential alternatives to a Myocardial Perfusion scan:

  • Angiogram
  • CT Coronary Angiogram
  • Echocardiography

Preparation for a Myocardial Perfusion scan

  • You may be asked to cease certain medications prior to the test.
  • Caffeine needs to be ceased 24 hours prior to your appointment (this includes, but not limited to, chocolate, tea, coffee, cola, soft drinks, etc).
  • Fast 4 hours prior to test then water only.
  • If you are diabetic, please notify staff when booking your appointment to receive specific instructions.
  • Wear suitable shoes and comfortable clothing for exercising.
  • Please make staff aware if you are (or think you could be) pregnant, breastfeeding, claustrophobic and/or if you are the primary/sole carer for small children when you book your appointment.
  • Bring any previous nuclear Medicine scans or any other scans relating to the area of interest.

What happens during a Myocardial Perfusion Scan?

Part 1: REST

You will be given a small injection of a radioactive tracer that is taken up by the heart muscle. This injection should not make you feel any different. Following a short wait (10-30 minutes), images will be acquired of your heart. This part of the test takes 30-60 minutes.

Part 2: STRESS

This involves exercise on a treadmill or bike. If you are unable to exercise, an injection of medication is used to artificially stress the heart. An ECG is performed and your blood pressure is noted. Another injection of radioactive tracer is administered, this time with your heart at peak stress. After 20-60 minutes, more images will be acquired of your heart. This part of the test can take between 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Duration: Allow at least 3-4 hours for completion of this examination.

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