Myocardial Perfusion Study

What is a Myocardial Perfusion Study?

This test provides valuable information about your coronary arteries and heart muscle. It is used to evaluate symptoms that are suspicious for blockages in the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. Pictures are taken of your heart using a radioactive medicine. Each set of pictures is compared to see if blockages exist in your coronary arteries.


Your physician may order this exam to evaluate the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain, pressure or heaviness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the neck or jaws
  • Back pain or left arm pain
  • Palpitations

This test is also used to evaluate patients who have known heart disease. The physician may want to check the effectiveness of previous treatments such as medications, stenting or bypass surgery. This exam is also used to check for heart disease in patients with abnormal electrocardiograms.

What can I expect during the procedure?

When you arrive for your appointment, an IV will be started in a vein in your arm. The technologist will then inject a small amount of a radioactive tracer through the IV so that images of your heart can be taken. The tracer is required so that we may see your heart on the camera. After the medication circulates for approximately 30 minutes, your resting pictures will be taken.

For these pictures, you will lie on your back on the imaging bed with your left arm resting above your head. The camera will circle around your chest for 20 minutes, acquiring computer images as it rotates. You have to lie very still during the pictures, but you will be able to breathe normally.

When the resting pictures are finished, you will be taken to the stress lab for a stress test. This part of the test will be done on a treadmill or with a medication that simulates exercise for people who are unable to walk on the treadmill. You will be connected to EKG leads and have your blood pressure monitored. At peak stress, you will be given another injection of the imaging medication.

After your stress test, the IV will be removed and you will be able to leave the clinic for lunch. You will return to the clinic in the afternoon for another set of images. The images are processed after you leave, and the cardiologist will review the pictures and make a report to your physician.

The sets of pictures are carefully compared to look for any changes in the blood supply to your heart muscle during rest and stress conditions. These differences can tell the physician if areas of your heart are not getting enough blood supply due to blockages in the coronary arteries.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to your appointment time.
  • Take any prescribed medication unless otherwise directed by your physician.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit without metal on the top, and avoid underwire bras if possible.
  • Know that the medications used in this test will not affect your ability to drive.
  • Be prepared for this test to take approximately 1 1/2 hours in the morning, and 30 minutes in the afternoon.