PET Myocardial Perfusion Imaging

(Also called: Cardiac PET perfusion)

Images from a PET scan

Positron emission tomography (PET) myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) is an imaging process that shows how well blood flows to the muscle of the heart (myocardium). This test is used to diagnose the presence or absence of coronary artery disease.


A radioactive tracer (either rubidium-82 or ammonia-13) is injected into the patient’s bloodstream and is taken up by the heart. A PET camera detects the radiation released by the tracer to produce images of the heart. Two sets of images are taken, one after an injection at rest and another after an injection during a stress test with persantine (dipyridamole) medication, which simulates exercise.

  1. A technologist or nurse will explain the test to you, take a brief medical history, and answer any questions you may have. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and electrocardiogram (ECG) will be monitored before, during, and after the test.
  2. You will be asked to sign a consent form. This form is required before the test can proceed.
  3. A technologist or nurse will insert an intravenous tube (IV) into a vein in your arm.
  4. You will be brought into the scanner room and asked to lie on your back on the table attached to the scanner.
  5. Adhesive electrode pads will be applied to your chest for the ECG.
  6. A small amount of radioactive material will be given to you through the IV.
  7. You will be asked to lie very still with both arms positioned overhead. The PET camera will take pictures of your heart for 25 to 30 minutes. 
  8. You will then undergo the stress test. You will receive an injection of persantine over a period of five minutes to mimic the effect of exercise on the heart.
  9. A small amount of radioactive material will be given again through the IV.
  10. You will be asked to lie very still with both arms positioned overhead. The PET camera will take pictures of your heart for another 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. You will be monitored throughout the test. It is very important for you to tell the technologist if you experience any discomfort or other symptoms during the test.
  12. An injection of a drug called aminophylline will be given. This drug reverses the effect of the persantine on the heart. You may feel tingling in the face after the aminophylline injection.
  13. The nuclear technologist will process the images and data from the test. The data will be reviewed by a physician. A report will be sent to the doctor(s) involved in your care. 
Patient Instructions 

When booking your appointment

  • Please inform us if you are claustrophobic, or discuss this with your doctor.

Before your test

  • Download, print, and read the detailed diet and medication instructions (pdf).
  • If you have asthma or diabetes, check with your doctor for special instructions.
Additional Info 
  • Check in with your Health Card at the Diagnostic Centre window on the first floor. Please arrive 15 minutes early. For more information, see Coming for a Diagnostic Test.
  • The cardiac PET perfusion test takes about two hours to complete.
  • If you have any questions prior to your cardiac PET perfusion test, please call 613-696-7000 x14934, Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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