A Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography scan, or SPECT scan, is a nuclear medicine imaging technique that uses small amounts of a radioactive tracer to detect disease or injury. SPECT Myocardial Perfusion Imaging is a non-invasive diagnostic test that shows how well blood flows to your heart muscle tissue.
The tracer is injected into a vein in your arm and travels to your heart. The SPECT scan may be combined with an exercise stress test, where you will be asked to walk on a treadmill or use a stationary bike. If you are unable to exercise, a medication may be injected that mimics the effects of exercise on blood vessels.
A SPECT machine has specialized cameras that detect the radioactive tracer. These cameras rotate around you, recording images of your heart. Images are created at rest and after exercise or medication is given.
Areas of the heart receiving adequate blood flow will appear bright, and the shape of the heart will be easy to see. Areas with reduced or no blood flow will appear darker, relative to healthy tissue, and the shape of the heart will be harder to see. These differences can indicate areas affected by coronary artery disease or previous damage to your heart.
The information from a SPECT scan helps your physician choose an appropriate treatment. Ask your healthcare team for more details.
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