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, your doctor may order this test to find areas of damaged heart muscle. This test may be done during rest and while you exercise. A myocardial perfusion scan uses a tiny amount of a radioactive substance, called a radioactive tracer. The tracer travels through the bloodstream and healthy heart muscle absorbs it. 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 the tracer.
Your doctor may order a resting myocardial perfusion scan in these cases:
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to order a resting myocardial perfusion scan.
Except for the needle used to put in the IV, this test does not cause pain.
The injection of the radioactive tracer may cause some slight discomfort. Allergic reactions to the tracer are rare.
You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular situation.
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all of your medical conditions. Make a list of questions you have about the procedure. Be sure to discuss these questions and any concerns with your healthcare provider before the test. Bring a family member or friend to the appointment to help you remember your questions and concerns. Certain factors may interfere with or affect the results of this test. These include:
You may have a resting myocardial perfusion scan on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare providers practice.
Generally, a resting myocardial perfusion scan follows this process:
Move slowly when getting up from the scanner table to avoid any dizziness or lightheadedness from lying flat for the length of the procedure.
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.
The IV site will be checked for any signs of redness or swelling. If you notice any pain, redness, or swelling at the IV site after you return home, tell your healthcare provider. This may be a sign of infection or other type of reaction.
Your healthcare provider may give your other instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation. If the perfusion scan shows you may have a serious or life threatening cardiac disease, your healthcare provider may talk to you about a same-day cardiovascular procedure.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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