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Nuclear Imaging Stress Test (Myocardial Perfusion)


A nuclear stress test is a very sensitive and accurate noninvasive test used to determine blood flow and blockage of arteries supplying the heart muscle. It is done by injecting medically safe levels of a tracer substance that is evaluated by pictures of the heart taken before and after stress testing.


A nuclear scan is done to accurately determine blood flow and heart muscle function in a person suspected of coronary artery blockage. In addition, nuclear stress testing is more accurate than echo stress tests, which rely on ultrasound waves, in certain patients with thicker chest walls or for whom imaging is difficult. The nuclear stress test can answer the question of blockage in these more challenging patients. Under certain circumstances, a regular stress test may yield indeterminate results. In those cases, your doctor may request a nuclear imaging stress test, which is also called a myocardial perfusion stress test.


EKG pads or electrodes are placed on your chest wall to see the heart rhythm, and an IV will be placed in your arm only during the test. You will have pictures taken under the nuclear camera for about 10 minutes both before and after exercise. There is a waiting period of 60 to 90 minutes between the two parts of the test, during which time you may eat. Your test will be read within 24 hours and a report sent to your doctor.

Typically, you will not eat or drink several hours prior to the test. Also, no caffeine is allowed prior to testing. Wear comfortable clothes to walk on the treadmill. For patients with medical conditions that do not allow treadmill exercise, chemical stress testing can be done without exercise. These tests, called adenosine or Dobutamine stress nuclear testing, are safe and accurate ways of evaluating the blood flow to the heart and are often used in patients awaiting surgery (like knee or back surgery) who are unable to walk.


We prefer that you refrain from taking your insulin if possible. If that's not possible, a minimum of 3 hours prior to test time you may have your insulin with a slice of toast or egg, and a glass of juice (no caffeine, however). If you take a pill such as glucophage to control your diabetes, take it as usual, and observe the fasting guidelines above.


Dr. Tony Das and Dr. Tulika Jain, our board-certified nuclear cardiologists will interpret the results from your nuclear stress testing. Your CIVA doctor or other referring physician will have the results available to them within 24 hours.

Myocardial Perfusion Imaging

Myocardial Perfusion Imaging - This test shows areas of normal and reduced blood flow.

How to prepare for your stress test.
  • No food or drink (except water) after midnight the evening before your test. If diabetic, please see the note below.
  • No caffeine or nicotine 24 hours prior to your test.
  • Please do not take your Beta Blocker medication (Atenolol, Tenormin, Zebeta, Coreg, Lopressor, Metoprolol, Toprol, Corgard, Inderal, or Propanolol) 24 hours prior to the test unless instructed differently by your doctor.
  • Please do not use lotion or powder on your chest the day of the test.
  • Wear two-piece, comfortable clothing, preferably with tennis shoes.
  • The test takes approximately 4 hours including wait time between tests. Feel free to bring some form of entertainment, such as a book or crossword, and a snack for your designated snack time.