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Nuclear Cardiology

A nuclear perfusion scan is ordered to look at how blood is flowing to your heart muscle.  Two sets (rest and stress) of pictures are taken on 2 separate days.  For the first part (rest part) of the test, a nuclear medicine technologist will take pictures of your heart in a resting state.

For the second part of the test (stress part), pictures of the heart will be taken when it is working hard. This is usually accomplished by having you exercise on a treadmill.  If you are unable to exercise for any reason, you will be given a medication (dipyridamole or dobutamine) to make your heart work hard instead.

A stress technologist or physician will explain the risks and benefits of the stress test and will ask you to sign a consent form.  Your skin will be prepared and electrodes will be placed on your chest.  These electrodes are attached to a heart monitor will allow us to watch your heart rate and rhythm during the test.  If you can exercise, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill.  The test will start slowly and gradually.  The speed and incline will increase gradually.  You will be encouraged to exercise for as long as possible.  Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the test.

For both parts of the test, a nuclear medicine technologist will inject a small amount of radioactive medication (called radiotracer) into a vein in your arm.  This medication contains a small amount of radioactivity which is not harmful.  The radiotracer will travel to your heart muscle.  You will be asked to lie very still on the examining table while a special nuclear camera (called a gamma camera) takes pictures of your heart.

Preparation for the test

  1. Do not eat, drink, or smoke for 4 hours before the test.
  2. No caffeine/caffeine products 24 hours before the test (eg: coffee, tea, chocolate, coca cola etc)
  3. Do not take the following medications for 48 hours before your test: beta blockers, nitrates, and non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers.  Please check with your doctor.
  4. Bring a list of your current medications.
  5. Wear comfortable clothing and running shoes if you are doing an exercise nuclear test.
  6. Present yourself at the Nuclear Medicine Department, main floor.

Last updated on: January 6th, 2017