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Cardiac Blood Pool Scan

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 test.

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 heart.

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.

The gamma 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 under way.

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 asked to:

  • Change position for each different view.
  • 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 repeated.

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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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