Dual Isotope Myocardial Perfusion Scan (DIMPS)

Doctors use DIMPS tests to diagnose and determine multiple heart-related issues, including:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Adequate blood flow to the heart during exercise
  • The effectiveness of devices such as a catheter or stent
  • The effectiveness of heart medications

DIMPS uses two radioactive substances, known as tracers, to produce images of the heart muscle. When combined with exercise, the tracers help determine if areas of the heart are not receiving enough blood.

Before the test

  • Don’t eat or drink anything, except water, for up to six hours before the test.
  • Don’t ingest anything containing caffeine for 12 hours before the test; this includes coffee, tea and chocolate. Caffeine can skew your results.
  • If you are taking blood pressure medications, talk to your doctor before your test to see if he wants you to continue or discontinue taking them before your stress test.
  • If you require an inhaler, bring it.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing and walking shoes.
  • Allow approximately four hours for the test.
During the test

Resting Pictures

When you arrive for the test, a small-gauge IV will be started and you will be given a small amount of a tracer. You will wait approximately 20 minutes before having the pictures of your heart taken with the scanning camera. After the pictures, you will then be taken to a stress lab to prepare for either the exercise or medication portion of the exam.

Stress Test

In order to monitor your heart function, 10 electrodes will be placed on your chest (men may need to have their chest hair trimmed to ensure electrodes stay in place). You will also be equipped with a blood pressure cuff.

You will be asked to begin walking on the treadmill with the speed and incline increasing gradually in order to achieve the optimum heart rate, at which point another tracer will be injected. You may be required to walk for a short time after this injection.

If you are not able to exercise or reach your target heart rate, a special medication (Lexiscan®) may be used to simulate exercise. When special medication is used, this is known as a pharmacologic DIMPS.

Second Set of Pictures

After completion of the stress portion, you will be given a small snack to eat before it is time for your second set of pictures.

After the test

You will be able to resume your normal activities and medications after the procedure. A cardiologist will review and interpret the pictures and a report will be sent to your doctor to determine if treatment options are necessary.

Be sure to keep your follow-up appointment.

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