This is a progressive department that performs tests to help determine the severity of coronary artery disease. Results help identify if arteries are blocked and are causing and inadequate flow of blood to the heart tissues. The department is staffed by nuclear medicine staff technologists and EKG technicians, and conducts many procedures including Myocardial Perfusion Imaging.
What to Expect
A Myocardial Perfusion Imaging procedure generally takes two to three hours to perform. Before the test, the technologist explains to the patient what is involved during the procedure. The procedure involves injecting a radiopharmaceutical, intravenously (through a vein, usually in the arm), and images of the heart are acquired 30 to 45 minutes post (after) the injection. The images are recorded for approximately 20 minutes, with the patient lying down on a scanning table. The first set of images acquired determines blood flow to the heart while the patient is at rest. After these images are recorded, electrodes are placed on the patient to monitor the heart during exercise or stress. A cardiologist, a specially trained doctor in heart procedures, supervises the exercise/stress portion of the procedure. There are two ways to exercise/stress the patient. One is mechanically with a bicycle or treadmill. The second method is pharmacologically (drug induced) with adenosine or dobutamine, drugs that cause dilatation or widening of the arteries. After exercise/stress, the patient waits for another 30 to 45 minutes and another set of images of the heart is acquired. The second set of images determines blood flow to the heart after exercise/stress. After all the images are acquired, data is collected and processed by the nuclear cardiology technologist. The patient's cardiologist interprets the results.
Preparation for the Procedure
Fasting, prior to the procedure, is not required. However, the patient needs to be caffeine free 12 hours before the procedure, which includes decaffeinated products. It is suggested the patient wear comfortable shoes and clothes (preferably with no metals) around the chest area.