Dr Sabina Dizdarevic MD MSc FRCP
Lead Consultant in Nuclear Medicine
BSUH NHS Trust
Department of Imaging and Nuclear Medicine
Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer
Brighton & Sussex Medical School
The information on this page is for patients who
are having a myocardial perfusion scan using thallium. It explains what it is for,
what is involved and any significant risks that there may be.
is a thallium scan?
It is a scan
of the heart to diagnose heart disease. The scan assesses the blood flow to your
heart and shows how well your coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply
the heart muscle) are working. It involves having an injection of a very small
amount of radioactive material, Thallium (tracer) into a vein. The tracer gives
off x-rays or gamma-rays which can be detected by a special cameras, so we can
take pictures of your blood as it travels around the body.
are you having it?
If you have chest
pain or shortness of breath this scan allows the doctor to look at the blood supply
to your heart to discover the reason for your chest pain or breathlessness. It
is non-invasive, in that no instruments are used inside the body.
Eat only a light breakfast if your
scan is in the morning or a light lunch for afternoon or evening scans.
clothing and comfortable shoes, as you will be asked to do some gentle exercise.
Trousers are best.
Bring your tablets or a list of the tablets you take. For
most scans there is no need to change any medication.
Please do not bring children
with you to the department. This is to aviod exposing them to unnecessary radiation.
patients: You should not have this scan if you are pregnant or might be
What does the scan involve?
The scan is in two parts and may be performed by a doctor,
a specialist nurse or technician.
During the first part we make your heart
beat faster by injecting a drug and/or by asking you to walk on a treadmill, or
cycle on an exercise bike. We will then give you an injection containing a small
amount of radioactive material, Thallium, into a vein in your arm. Then we take
pictures of your heart straight away using a special cameras. This takes about
15 minutes and you will need to keep very still. We will then ask you to return
to the department two to four hours later for the second part of the test. During
this time you may drink water or fruit juice but you must not eat anything (unless
you have diabetes) or do any physical activity.
The second part does not
usually involve injections (however, occasionally a second thallium injection may
be necessary). Further pictures will be taken lasting about 15-30 minutes.
there any risk from the radiation?
scans are very safe. We use very small amounts of radioactive material to allow
us to take pictures or scans; these amounts have been shown to be extremely safe
in adults and children. The benefits of the scan far outweigh the risk to your
Please speak to your specialist doctor before
your scan if you have any concerns about this risk.
there any side effects?
No. The radioactive
tracer will not make you sleepy, nor will it prevent you from driving a car.
You can eat and drink normally.
You may go anywhere you wish; but please avoid prolonged close contact with children
for the rest of the day. this is to avoid exposing them to unnecessary radiation,