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Patient Information Myocardial Perfusion Scan

Myocardial Perfusion Scan

A Myocardial Perfusion Scan is a scan to look at the blood supply to your heart muscle.

Why do I need this test?

You have been referred for this scan by one of the hospital Consultants or a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner. You may already have existing heart problems which need further review, or you may have angina type symptoms, which need further investigation.

How is the test performed?

There are usually two parts to a Myocardial Perfusion Scan, a stress and a rest scan. The stress scan allows us to look at the blood supply to your heart muscle as if you are exercising. The rest scan allows us to look at your heart muscle’s usual blood supply. The doctors are looking to see if there are any areas of your heart where the blood supply may be reduced.

Is there anything I should tell the staff before the scan?

Yes. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, please inform us. We also need to know if you are breastfeeding as you will need to stop breastfeeding for several hours following the scan.

Stress Scan

The aim of the stress scan is to open up the arteries around the heart as if you were exercising. This is done by giving you a drug called Rapiscan. One minute after giving the Rapiscan we will give you a small amount of a radioactive tracer; this will allow us to see your heart when we do your scan. We will take images of your heart using a scanner called a gamma camera.

Preparation

You must not have any caffeine on the morning of your test but please continue to drink water, milk or fruit juice/squash as we need you to be well hydrated. Depending on the time of your appointment you should have a light breakfast and/or a light lunch.

In most cases you can continue to take all your medication as normal however if we do need you to stop taking any medication this will be written in your appointment letter.

If we do ask you to stop taking a medication and you do not recognise the name of it please check with your local pharmacist or ring the Medical Physics Department (details can be found at the end of the leaflet).

It is important that we know the names of all the medications that you are currently taking so please bring a list of them with you when you attend.

What happens during the test?

The Rapiscan and radioactive tracer are both given through a needle in either your arm or hand. The needle will feel similar to having a blood test. It takes less than five minutes to give both injections.

After you have been given the Rapiscan and the radioactive tracer, you will be asked to return to the waiting room for approximately 10 minutes and drink three glasses of water. The water fills your stomach and allows us to see your heart clearly during the scan. You do not need a full bladder for the scan.

The scan involves lying flat on a bed for 20 minutes while the cameras move around your chest taking pictures. The camera is very small, you are not fully enclosed and your head will not go under the camera. After the scan a member of staff will check your pictures to make sure we can see your heart clearly and also check that you have not moved during the scan. If we cannot see your heart clearly or you have moved during the scan we will need to repeat the images in approximately one hour and we may give you something to eat. Only a very small number of people will need to have their images repeated.

How will you feel?

Rapiscan has some very common side effects. These are similar to the feelings you would get if you were doing some exercise. The most common side effects are shortness of breath, chest tightness, hot flushes and feeling light headed. The side effects come on very quickly but will also disappear very quickly, usually within two minutes.

The radioactive tracer will not make you feel any different.

Is it safe?

Before the test starts, you will be asked several questions about your health. Your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels will be monitored. This is to ensure that Rapiscan is the most suitable drug to give you. In a small number of cases we will not be able to give you Rapiscan. An experienced member of staff will make this decision and if they decide Rapiscan is not suitable for you at that time, an alternative appointment will need to be made for you to attend on a day when you can be given a different drug by a Cardiac Nurse Practitioner. This only happens for a very small number of people.

You will be given a radioactive substance for this procedure. The risks involved are low and a licensed doctor has judged that the benefits of doing the test outweigh the risks; if you wish to know more please the IAEA website. If you still have questions regarding radiation risk please get in touch with us.

For most people there will be no restrictions after having the injection but if you weigh more than 110kg (17 stones) you will be asked to avoid close, prolonged contact with people for six hours after the test. Close means right next to and prolonged means for several hours.

How long will the test take?

For most people the whole test will take approximately one hour, although we ask that you plan to be here for up to two hours, in case we need to repeat your images.

Do I need to bring anyone with me?

No, but you can bring someone with you if you wish. They can also stay with you during the whole procedure.

Can I drive?

Yes, this test will have no impact on your ability to drive.

Will I get the results after the scan?

The Medical Physics staff will not be able to give you any results after the test. Your test is not complete until you have had your rest scan.

Rest Scan

Your rest scan has to take place on a different day to your stress scan. The rest scan will allow us to see what the blood supply to your heart is like normally.

Preparation

There is no preparation needed before a rest scan. You may eat and drink normally and take all your medication.

What happens during the test?

You will have your blood pressure measured and then you may be given a spray of glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) under your tongue. Five minutes later you will be given an injection of the radioactive tracer. The injection will feel similar to having a blood test done. You will then be asked to return to the waiting room and drink three glasses of water. The scan is exactly the same as the scan you had for a stress scan.

How will you feel?

Most people will not feel any different. Sometimes GTN can give people a headache or make them feel light headed. If you do experience any side effects they will wear off very quickly. The radioactive tracer won’t make you feel any different.

Is it safe?

Before you are given GTN, your blood pressure will be taken. If your blood pressure is too low, you won’t be given GTN. If you have previously had a reaction to GTN, you won’t be given it.

How long will the test take?

For most people the whole test will take approximately one hour although we ask that you plan to be here for up to two hours, in case we need to repeat your images.

Do I need to bring anyone with me?

No, but you can bring someone with you if you wish. They can also stay with you during the whole procedure.

Can I drive?

Yes, this test will have no impact on your ability to drive.

When do I get the results?

The Medical Physics staff will not be able to give you any results after the test. The scan is reported by a Cardiologist who will return the results to your consultant. Your consultant is responsible for informing you of the results.

Contact numbers for further advice

Superintendent Radiographer/Clinical Technologists
Medical Physics
Tel: 0191 445 2710
Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

Physicist/Head of Medical Physics
Tel: 0191 445 2476 or 0191 445 5516
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm