While your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body, a network of arteries known as coronary arteries brings blood to your heart muscle.
If these get too narrow, it can be hard for your heart to get the fresh blood and oxygen it needs. If it doesn’t get enough, you can be at risk for a heart attack or other serious health problems.
A cardiac perfusion test tells your doctor if the muscles of your heart are getting enough blood. It’s also known as myocardial perfusion imaging or a nuclear stress test.
In most cases, you should take your regular medication. However, you may need to discontinue various cardiac (heart) medications as well as Persantin and several asthma drugs (Austyn, Elixophyllin, Neulin, Slo-Bid, Theo-dur). We will advise you which medications to stop and for how long. If you are uncertain whether to cease any medication, please check with your doctor or call us.
On the morning of the test, do not take any medications containing caffeine (e.g. Cafergot, Migral, Ergodryvl).
You should not have anything to eat or drink (except for water) on the morning of your test. Do not have breakfast. Also, you should not have foods or drinks containing caffeine (including coffee, tea, chocolate, cola or cocoa) for 24 hours before your test. If you have diabetes and take insulin, you may have a light breakfast with half your morning insulin several hours before the test. Diabetic patients should ring and discuss this with one of our staff.
The test will usually not be performed on pregnant women. If you know that you are (or think you might be) pregnant, please inform us before the test begins.
Please remember to bring your requesting letter and any recent X-rays or CT scans. At the time of your appointment, report to North Shore Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, located on the ground floor of North Shore Private Hospital in Westbourne Street, St Leonards.
The total time of the test may take up to five hours.
After the test is explained to you, a technologist will insert a cannula and inject a small dose of radioactive sestamibi. Some 45 minutes later, you will be positioned under a specialised camera that takes scans (pictures) of your heart. This takes about half an hour. A doctor will further discuss the test with you prior to you being taken to the stress laboratory.
A technician will place several ECG dots on your chest and take your blood pressure. The doctor will then inject Persantin through the cannula over several minutes (Persantin enlarges the arteries which supply blood into your heart). Your doctor will carefully monitor you during this period. A few minutes later, the doctor will give you an injection of another small dose of sestamibi through the cannula. About 30-60 minutes later, you will be positioned under the camera again for a similar set of scans of your heart. The total time of the test may take up to five hours.
While most patients experience no side effects during the test, Persantin may cause nausea, headache, flushing or chest pain. These symptoms are usually mild and short-lasting and relieved by medication. More serious side effects are extremely rare. The test is usually not advised if you have moderate to severe asthma. If you have asthma, please talk to your doctor or phone us before the day of the test.
You can drive home after the scan. You will not be drowsy in any way.
You will not get your results on leaving the department. Computer analysis is completed after the test. The results are sent to your referring doctor. In urgent cases, the result will be sent by facsimile or given by telephone.
Find your imaging service