Exercise Myocardial Perfusion Test (NET)
Also called MIBI or Nuclear Stress Test
The nuclear stress test is similar to the exercise stress test described above, with the addition of a radioactive “tracer”.
For the test, a small intravenous tube (IV) is inserted into a vein. You then receive an injection of a tracer that travels in the blood and is taken up by the heart muscle. Images of the heart muscle are taken 45 minutes later, to assess blood flow to the heart muscle at rest. In order to obtain the images, you will lie under a gamma camera for 20 minutes. These images are repeated after exercising on a treadmill, to increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your cardiologist will compare the “before” and “after” images to assess for areas of prior damage or decreased blood flow (“ischemia”).
The test is typically performed over a 3-hour period. Occasionally, the test may require two days (visits). The test involves exposure to radiation from the tracer (Technicium-99), comparable to that from an abdominal CT scan. This amount of radiation exposure is considered both reasonably safe and within acceptable limits.
Wear (or bring) comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Eat a light meal about three hours before the test (do not fast!) and take your usual medications unless otherwise directed by your physician. Be sure to drink sufficient water before the test so that you will be well hydrated. A shower and towels are available if you would like to shower afterwards.
Women who may be pregnant should inform the technologist prior to the start of the test.