How It Is Done
A cardiac blood pool scan usually is
done in a hospital by a radiology or nuclear medicine technician. Most people do not have to stay overnight in the hospital.
Before the test
You will need to remove any
jewelry that might interfere with the scan. You may need to take off all or
most of your clothes. You will be given a cloth or paper gown to use during the
During the test
You will lie on an examination
table beneath the gamma camera.
Electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) electrodes are attached
to your chest so that the electrical signal of your heart can also be detected.
Then the camera, which is a round metal instrument about
3 ft (1 m) wide, will be
positioned close to your body. If you are cold or uncomfortable lying on the
table, ask the technician for a pillow or blanket. The camera may be positioned
in different places across your chest to record different views of your
The technician cleans the site on your arm where the
radioactive tracer will be injected. An elastic band, or tourniquet, is then
wrapped around your upper arm to temporarily stop the flow of blood through the
veins in your arm. This makes it easier to put the needle into a vein properly.
A small amount of the radioactive tracer is then injected, usually into a vein
on the inside of your elbow.
If you are having a multigated
acquisition (MUGA) scan, a blood sample may be taken and the tracer added to
it, and then it will be reinjected into your vein.
camera will take pictures as the radioactive tracer moves through your
bloodstream and into your heart. It is important not to move while the scan is
The camera does not produce any radiation, so you are
not exposed to any additional radiation while the scan is being done. You will
need to hold still during each view, which may take up to 5 minutes. You may be
- Change position for each different
- Do some exercise between scans to see how well your
heart functions after the stress of exercise.
- Take nitroglycerin to
see how well your heart responds to the medicine.
The radioactive tracer is designed to attach to your
blood cells, which takes 20 to 30 minutes. You will then have to wait 2 to 4
hours until the tracer is completely absorbed by your
red blood cells. During that time, you may have to
stay at the test center. Some test centers may allow you to leave and come back
when it is time for your scan.
Testing usually takes 10 minutes
to an hour, depending on which studies are done. MUGA scanning may require 2 to
3 hours to obtain all the needed views.
After the test
Once your scan is complete, you
usually will be able to leave the testing room right away. You may have to wait
at the test center until all of your scan images have been reviewed. If you
moved during the scan and the images turned out blurry, the scan may have to be
Drink lots of water and urinate frequently after your
scan to make sure that the tracer flushes completely out of your body. It takes
a day or two for the tracer to be completely eliminated.