Cardiac Perfusion Scan
How It Feels
The cardiac scanning test itself is painless.
- You may feel a brief stinging or burning
sensation when the IV is inserted into your vein.
- You may be uncomfortable lying still for an extended period of
time on the table during the scans.
- If medicine to stress your
heart is used, you may have symptoms of mild nausea, headache, dizziness,
flushing, or chest pain. These symptoms only last a few
- If you are asked to exercise, you may have chest pain,
breathlessness, lightheadedness, aching in your leg muscles, and fatigue.
Report these to the technician. If the symptoms are severe, the exercise part
of the test may be stopped.
- You will be asked to remain very still during each scan, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes. The camera will move to take more pictures at different angles. Several scans will be taken.
Cardiac perfusion scans are usually safe. There is always a slight
chance of damage to cells or tissue from radiation, including the low levels of
radiation used for this test. But the chance of damage from the radiation is
usually very low compared with the benefits of the test.
The risk of exercise depends on the condition of your heart and
your general level of health. The risks include:
- An irregular heartbeat.
- Heart attack.
There is a slight risk that death may result if a heart attack occurs during
After the test
Call 911 or other emergency
services immediately if you develop:
- Chest pain or pressure.
- Trouble breathing.
Test results are usually available within 1
to 3 days.
A cardiac perfusion scan measures the amount of blood in your heart
muscle at rest and during exercise.
- Normal if radioactive tracer is evenly distributed throughout
your heart muscle.
- Abnormal if areas of abnormal tracer absorption are
present. This means some areas of heart muscle are not getting enough blood
(ischemia). This may mean that the heart has been damaged or that coronary artery
disease is present.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may
not be helpful include:
- A recent, serious
- Inflammation of the heart,
- Bruising of the heart muscle
- Weakening of the heart
- Stiffening of the heart muscle (myocardial
- A severely narrowed heart valve.
cardiac devices, such as a
- A condition that makes it difficult to exercise, such as lung
arthritis, or a neuromuscular
- Some medicines, such as dipyridamole (Persantine) and
electrolyte imbalances (especially calcium, potassium,
sodium, or magnesium).
- Pregnancy or breast-feeding (except in an
Test results may be difficult to interpret in scans done on women
with large breasts.