Myocardial Perfusion Imaging

A Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) scan is a test that looks at the blood flow to the heart. It consists of two parts: A rest test and stress test. It is sometimes called a MIBI scan.

Why It’s Done

The most common reason for this test is to look for blockages in the arteries of the heart. Your doctor may order this test if you have been having chest pain, shortness of breath, or as part of a surgery work up.  

How to Prepare

In addition to this pamphlet, you will receive information specific to your scan. It is important that you read and follow all the information given to you. Failure to follow the instructions may result in your test being rebooked to another day. 

Please tell the staff if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

For 24 hours before the test:

STOP all caffeine. This includes any coffee, tea, colas, energy drinks, chocolate, and cocoa

Caffeine is also in medicines such as Anacin and Tylenol #1, 2, 3 or 4. If you are unsure ask your pharmacist or doctor who ordered the test

For 4 hours before the test: Do not eat or drink anything unless you are told otherwise

Check with your doctor:

  • If you are diabetic and have questions 
  • If you are taking regular medicine(s): Your doctor will tell you what medicine(s) to take or not to take

Bring with You:

all the medicines you are currently taking in their original containers

a snack or money to buy a snack

  • Wear comfortable clothes and bring walking shoes for the stress part of the test
  • Do not wear any metal on your upper body as this may interfere with the test
  • You may have to change into a hospital gown  

You may be asked to come 15 – 30 minutes before your actual appointment time to register 

What to Expect During the Test

The test is divided into two parts:

  • The ‘rest’ test
  • The ‘stress’ test 

Usually, the rest test and stress test are done on a separate day. Each part of the test may take 1 – 4 hours 

REST TEST: To see if there is enough blood supply to the heart muscle you will receive

an injection of a radioactive tracer. To do this, the injection goes into a vein in your arm like a blood test. The test uses a small amount of radioactivity and does not cause any side effects. After the injection, you must wait about 30 – 75 minutes before the scan

You may be asked to remove bulky clothing or items that will interfere with the scan. Women will be asked to remove their bra. You will be able to wear a shirt or hospital gown. You will lie on the scanner bed on your back with your arms positioned above your head. Staff will work with you to make sure you are comfortable

The scan may include an EKG to measure your heart rate. You must hold still as the scanner takes pictures of your heart. Your head will not be under the scanner. The scan takes 6 – 20 minutes. Once your pictures are complete, they are checked for quality. If the images of your heart are not clear, the pictures may need to be repeated at a later time 

STRESS TEST:  The stress test is done by either walking on a treadmill or by giving a medicine to simulate exercise. The method used to stress your heart is determined by the doctor and/or technologist. You may be asked about your fitness levels, medicines, and medical history 

For the stress test, you will have an intravenous (IV) catheter placed in your arm. An EKG and blood pressure cuff will be set up to monitor your heart and blood pressure throughout the test

For a treadmill stress test: You will walk on a treadmill. It will start slow and may get steeper and faster as the test goes on. Once you reach a certain heart rate, you will receive the same radioactive tracer as the rest test through your IV. Most people walk on the treadmill for 4 – 12 minutes. It is unlikely you will have to run on the treadmill unless you are very physically fit. If you do not achieve a certain heart rate, you may be given a medicine through your IV. These medicines increase the blood flow to the heart, like exercise

For a medication stress test: Your will be given a medicine through your IV to simulate exercise. After allowing the medicine to work, you will be given the same radioactive tracer as the rest test. The medicine to simulate exercise may cause side effects. Let the staff know how you are feeling. Medicines can be given to help with side effects. In some cases, you may be asked to walk slowly on the treadmill as part of the test

After the stress test is done you must wait about 15 – 90 minutes before the scan. During this time, it is usually encouraged that you have something to eat and drink. The scan is very similar to the scan for the rest test. You may be asked to do another shorter scan lying on your front for 4 minutes 

After The Test

  • The results of your test will be sent to the doctor that ordered your test. 
  • Ask the staff before you leave for a travel letter if you plan on travelling within 7 days after the test