Myocardial perfusion scans (cardiac scanning)

A myocardial perfusion scan is a method for detecting abnormalities of blood flow to the heart. This is done with the intravenous injection of a mildly radioactive tracer, usually either thallium or sestamibi. The study is typically performed in two parts. The first is to visualize blood flow during stress. While walking or running on a treadmill, the radiotracer is injected into an IV. About 15-30 minutes later, the patient is placed on a table in the camera gantry and pictures of the heart are taken. In patients who cannot exercise on a treadmill, this part of the test is replaced and performed during the infusion of a drug that dilates the blood vessels of the heart. The second part of the test is to repeat the pictures after receiving another injection of the tracer during a period of rest. If the study shows that blood flow diminishes during exercise but is normal at rest, an area of ischemia (a cause of chest pain or angina) is identified. The test may also show that blood flow is abnormal during both exercise and at rest thus identifying an area of scar or area of dead tissue.

 
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