Myocardial Perfusion

A myocardial perfusion looks at the blood supply (perfusion) to the heart muscle using a gamma camera. The blood supply is made visible to the camera by the introduction of a small amount of radioactive tracer or radiopharmaceutical injected into a vein. Depending on the exact heart condition in question, the procedure may be performed at rest, or with the heart under stress or, most commonly, both.

Myocardial scans give information useful in diagnosing and managing conditions such as coronary artery disease, dead tissue resulting from a lack of blood supply (infarcts).

An Exercise Stress Myocardial Perfusion Scan examines the blood supply (perfusion) to the heart muscle using a gamma camera. The blood supply is made visible to the camera by the introduction of a small amount of radiopharmaceutical injected into an arm vein. The injection is given to you at rest and then again during stress exercise on a treadmill.

After each injection, a gamma camera placed over the chest takes images (maps) the pattern of tracer accumulated in the heart’s left ventricle, giving information useful in diagnosing and managing conditions such as coronary artery disease, infarcts and diseases of the heart musclecardiomyopathy.

  • Before your procedure

    What to bring

    • Your referral form
    • Any relevant previous imaging
    • Your Medicare card and any concession cards
    • All of your current medications in their containers


    A referral from your doctor or medical specialist, and an appointment is required for this examination.

    Before you attend your appointment, please read and follow the printed instructions exactly. During the 24 hours before your appointment time:

    • DO NOT drink any tea, coffee, chocolate or cola drinks (even small amounts).
    • DO NOT eat anything containing caffeine (even small amounts).
    • DO NOT eat chocolate.
    • DO eat a light breakfast on the day of your appointment.
    • DO ADVISE us before the appointment if you are diabetic and follow the printed instructions for diabetics.
    • CHECK the list of medications which may interfere with the test and cease any of these if you have been instructed to do so by your referring doctor or medical specialist.
    • If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child on the appointment day, please notify us in advance to receive special instructions.
    • WEAR loose, comfortable clothes and suitable footwear for the stress test

    Please call Apex Radiology immediately if you have any further questions or need any clarification.

  • During your procedure

    What to expect during my procedure

    When you attend your appointment at Apex Radiology you will be asked to answer a few safety questions, remove any necklaces.

    A nurse will explain and prepare you for the stress test, which includes introducing an intravenous cannula (a small tube for taking blood samples and administering medicines) and electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring during the treadmill exercise. A doctor will then speak to you before you start the exercise process. If exercise presents problems for you the doctor may suggest either trying gently exercising on the treadmill or an alternative stress method using a pharmaceutical.

    For the test to give useful results it is important to stress the heart sufficiently, so the exercise will increase in intensity for as long as needed. Near the end of the exercise, the doctor will inject the tracer through the intravenous cannula.

    After 20 to 60 minutes resting, the technologist will position you in the gamma camera and begin imaging. The gamma camera is a large square radiation detector which rotates around the chest (SPECT). There are no unusual sensations or discomfort, and the scan takes 15 minutes.

    The images are usually combined with a low dose CT scan done at the same time on the same scanner. This SPECT/CT improves the accuracy of the information, and adds a few minutes to the procedure time.

    After the first scan, the technologist will inject more MIBI, and ask you to wait, resting from 30 to 60 minutes before repeating the scan to show the heart perfusion at rest.

    Please allow up to four to six hours for the complete procedure.

  • Risks and side effects

    Nuclear medicine examinations are considered very safe with almost no reported adverse reactions attributable to the radiopharmaceuticals used in these examinations.

    Nuclear Medicine studies require very small doses of radiation and are only performed where the benefits of the examination are deemed to outweigh any potential risks. At Apex Radiology you can be assured that using the latest technology and with staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.

    If you are worried or concerned about having a Stress Test you should discuss this with your referring doctor or medical specialist before coming for your examination.

    If you are a diabetic on insulin treatment you should advise the nurse on arrival. If you think you may be pregnant, please inform our Nuclear Medicine team before your examination commences.

    For further information regarding radiation safety please visit:

  • After your procedure

    What to expect after your procedure

    The radioactive tracer will decay over time and the body will eliminate any residue through the kidneys and bowel and you are free to resume normal activities. You should drink plenty of water after the scan to help the elimination process. If you are caring for a small child, or breastfeeding, we may ask you to take some minor precautions.

  • After your scan

    Little of the radioactive tracer remains in the body after a renal scan, most of the radiotracer is excreted through the kidneys and bladder.

    You can resume your normal activities immediately after the procedure is completed.

  • How do I receive my results?

    If your results are needed urgently, or you have an appointment straight after your scan with your referring doctor or health care provider, Apex Radiology will arrange to have your results available immediately. Otherwise your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 72 hours of your examination.

    Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.

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