This non-invasive test may be necessary for your heart doctor to look at your heart to more accurately diagnose your condition and plan the best treatment. At San Diego Cardiac Center, we deliver SPECT imaging tests and are equipped with the most advanced technology to benefit our patients.

What is a SPECT Scan Test Like to Experience?

The test involves the injection of a tiny quantity of a radioactive substance through a vein in your arm. A specialized, high-tech camera then moves around you, creating images of your heart from many angles. These images are then combined to create 3D images of your heart for your heart doctor to review and evaluate.

Why Was a SPECT Scan Ordered?

A SPECT test reveals how the blood flow is entering and leaving the heart muscle. It will show your heart specialist whether there is healthy blood flow to your heart and how well your heart is working. The test is often performed both while your body is at rest and while exercising on a treadmill. This test can help our heart doctors diagnose your heart condition and find out:

  • If you have coronary artery disease
  • If you have had a heart attack
  • If a surgical procedure, such as bypass surgery, is functioning as it should
  • If you are at risk for having a heart attack

What is Myocardial Perfusion Imaging?

Myocardial perfusion imaging, or MPI, is another name for a SPECT test. It is also commonly referred to as a “nuclear stress test.” Another type of myocardial perfusion imaging test is a PET scan, or “positron emission tomography.” The SPECT test can be useful in determining the source of chest pain and whether it is the result of a lack of sufficient blood flow to the heart as the result of blocked arteries. If you have experienced chest pain, this test could be just one of the diagnostic tests you need if your SPECT scan reveals abnormalities in blood flow to the heart.

Preparing for Your SPECT Test

Before performing your SPECT test, we will study your health history and any medications you take, as well as supplements, herbs, vitamins, and over-the-counter medications.

You may be asked to stop taking certain medications or supplements before undergoing your test. We will work with your prescribing doctor to ensure any changes to your medication routine will be safe for you.

You will be asked to avoid caffeinated drinks and chocolate for 24 hours before your test. If you consume a caffeinated drink, whether coffee, soda, or energy drink, your test will be postponed. Do not consume any food for four to six hours before your test, and drink only water. Arrive in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and tennis shoes, as you will be exercising during this test if you are physically able.

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What is the Test Like?

The test involves placing specialized equipment on your chest, arms, and legs. You will have an IV line placed in your arm. During the test, your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored.

If you are unable to exercise, a medication will be administered to increase the blood flow to your heart, as if you were vigorously exercising. When you have reached the predetermined heart rate and blood flow, a small quantity of radioactive material will be administered through the IV line. Images are then taken of your heart while at peak and at rest, all while you lie comfortably on a treatment bed. You will need to hold still during this part of the procedure to ensure the images are clear. The entire test will take between three and four hours to complete.

Your SPECT Test at San Diego Cardiac Center

Our team of heart doctors and medical support staff are committed to ensuring you are comfortable and informed during any testing performed at San Diego Cardiac Center. We welcome your communication. We want you to be fully aware of why you are undergoing the test, what it will tell us, and, once completed, your treatment options. As the premier heart clinic in San Diego, we offer our patients some of the most groundbreaking, innovative treatments and are always engaged in clinical research to discover further advances in medical technology.

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