Myocardial Perfusion Scan (aka Nuclear Stress Test)

Purpose of Test: This test will identify blockages that are severe enough to cause a decrease in blood flow in the coronary arteries. Images of the heart are taken at rest and with “stress.” It is always preferred that we stress the heart with exercise on a treadmill, but if unable, a medication is injected to dilate the coronary arteries. A small amount of radioactive isotope tracer (either thallium or technetium) is injected into a vein in the hand or arm at rest and after exercise or stress. This tracer “lights up” the heart muscle if there is adequate flow, but is dark if the flow is diminished by a blockage. Images of the heart are taken with a gamma camera at rest and after stress, each image taking about 15 – 20 minutes.

Location: 1305 York Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10021
(SW Corner of 70th Street & York Ave)

Arrival Time: Plan to arrive 20 minutes prior to appointment time

To reschedule: (646) 962-3139

Duration of Test: ~4 hours (although images only take 15 – 20 minutes each, the exercise or stress portion takes another 20 – 30 minutes, and there is a mandatory “wait time” between images).

Preparation for Test:

  1. Avoid all caffeine products for 24 hours including the following:
    • Coffee including decaffeinated and caffeine-free, tea, energy/soft drinks, chocolate, cocoa, strawberries, etc
    • Medications with caffeine (Excedrin®, Anacin®, Nodoz®, diet pills).
  2. Theophylline medications should be stopped 48 hours prior to the test. Consult your physician for specific instructions.
  3. Several cardiac medications that also affect the heart rate may need to be stopped temporarily before the test. Please consult your physician regarding any cardiac medications before this test.
  4. Do not eat or drink anything for 4 hours before the procedure.
  5. You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to perform the test. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.
  6. If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you must notify the staff.
  7. Notify the staff of all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking.
  8. Notify the staff if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator
  9. Please wear comfortable clothing, as well as a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.
  10. Based upon your medical condition, your physician may request other specific preparation.

What should I expect during the test?

  1. You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the pictures of your heart.
  2. You will be given a gown to wear.
  3. An intravenous catheter (IV) will be placed in your arm or hand.
  4. You will be connected to an ECG machine with leads and a blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm. Throughout the test, ECG’s and blood pressure will be taken.
  5. If you are able, you will exercise on a treadmill. The intensity of the exercise will be gradually be raised by increasing the speed of the treadmill.
  6. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored. Once you have reached your maximal exercise point (determined by your heart rate and age), the radionuclide will be injected through the IV.
  7. After the radionuclide has been injected, you will need to continue to exercise for one to two minutes more to let the radionuclide circulate. The treadmill is then slowed down and stopped.
  8. You will lie flat on the gamma camera while the images of your heart are obtained. If possible, your arms will be positioned above your head. It will be necessary for you to lie very still while the images are being taken, as movement can adversely affect the quality of the images.
  9. You will be observed for approximately 10 minutes to be certain your heart rate and blood pressure recover to baseline.

If your physician determines that you are unable to exercise, you will undergo a Pharmacological ("Chemical") Nuclear Stress Test.

  1. You will not exercise on a treadmill. Instead, a medication is injected through the intravenous catheter to simulate the stress.
  2. Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored.
  3. The radionuclide will be injected through the intravenous catheter.
  4. You will lie flat on the gamma camera while the images of your heart are obtained.


A Program of the Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging
at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
428 East 72nd Street Suite 300
New York, NY 10021 Map This P: (646) 962-4278 (HART) F: (646) 962-0188