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A myocardial perfusion scan is a type of nuclear medicine imaging test. This means that a tiny amount of a radioactive substance, called a radioactive tracer (also called a radiopharmaceutical or a radionuclide), is used during the scan to help show the tissue under study, in this case, the heart.
A resting myocardial perfusion scan is used to assess blood flow to the heart muscle and determine what areas of the heart tissue have decreased blood flow. The is done by injecting a radioactive tracer (usually thallium or technetium) into a vein in the arm or hand. 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. The tracer may not be absorbed due to damage to the tissue from decreased or blocked blood flow.
Possible reasons a resting myocardial perfusion scan may be done include:
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend 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 to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider prior to the procedure.
Certain factors may interfere with or affect the results of this test. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
A resting myocardial perfusion scan may be done 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:
You should move slowly when getting up from the scanner table to avoid any dizziness or lightheadedness from lying flat for the length of the procedure.
You will be instructed to drink plenty of fluids and empty your bladder frequently for 24 to 48 hours after the test to help 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, and/or swelling at the IV site after you return home, you should notify your healthcare provider as this may be a sign of infection or other type of reaction.
Your healthcare provider may give your additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation. If the perfusion scan indicates 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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