A Stress/Rest Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) Study is a type of stress test that uses PET or SPECT imaging of a patient’s heart before and after exercise to determine the effect of physical stress on the flow of blood through the coronary arteries and the heart muscle.
The three-dimensional images produced by this study are called perfusion images because they show which areas of the heart muscle are perfused, or supplied, with blood.
The stress/rest MPI may also be referred to as a cardiac or nuclear stress test, a thallium scan or a sestamibi cardiac scan.
A physician may perform a Stress/Rest MPI study to:
How is a Stress/Rest MPI Study Performed?
For the exercise portion of the test, the patient is asked to walk or run on a treadmill in order to elevate the heart to its peak rate. Patients who are unable to exercise are given a drug that elevates the heart rate (called a pharmacologically induced stress test). The patient’s heart rate and blood pressure are monitored during this phase of the test.
The patient then receives an intravenous injection of a radiotracer called thallium, which accumulates in the heart muscle. Next, the patient is moved to an imaging suite, where images of the heart are taken with a SPECT camera or PET scanner. Several hours later, the patient is imaged again.
Alternatively, a radiotracer called sestamibi may be used. This radiotracer requires two injections for the exercise or stress portion of the study and later for the resting portion of the study, which may be scheduled a day ahead or after the stress test.
Who Benefits from Stress/Rest MPI Studies?
For some patients at low-risk for heart disease, a stress test using echocardiography, known as an ECG stress test or exercise treadmill testing, alone is frequently sufficient. However, in patients with a moderate-to-high risk for coronary artery disease, an MPI study is essential in addition to a stress test. Patients who have an abnormal exercise stress test will usually require additional stress testing, such as a Stress/Rest MPI study and/or coronary angiography.
Physicians ensure the Stress/Rest MPI Study is appropriate for patients by:
Advantages of Stress/Rest MPI
This study is: