Diagnostic Procedures

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram (echo or ECG) is a noninvasive procedure. This means it does not pierce the skin. It's used to check the heart's function and structures. During the procedure, a transducer (like a microphone) sends out sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed on the chest at certain locations and angles, the sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues. The waves bounce or "echo" off of the heart structures. These sound waves are sent to a computer that can create moving images of the heart walls and valves.

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Stress Testing

An exercise imaging stress test shows how well blood flows inside your heart and how well your heart pumps blood. It gives your healthcare provider more information than a non-imaging stress test.


256 Slice Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)

Computed tomography angiography (CT angiography or CTA) is a type of medical test that combines a CT scan with an injection of a special dye to produce pictures of blood vessels and tissues in a part of your body. The dye is injected through an IV (intravenous) line started in your arm or hand.

A CT scan is a type of X-ray that uses a computer to make images of your body. The dye injected to do CT angiography is called a contrast material because it "lights up" blood vessels and tissues being studied.

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Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (Nuclear Stress Test)

Myocardial perfusion is an imaging test. It's also called a nuclear stress test. It is done to show how well blood flows through the heart muscle. It also shows how well the heart muscle is pumping. For example, after a heart attack, it may be done to find areas of damaged heart muscle.

This test may be done during rest and while you exercise. A myocardial perfusion scan uses a tiny amount of a radioactive substance, called a radioactive tracer. The tracer travels through the blood. It is absorbed by the healthy heart muscle. On the scan, the areas where tracer has been absorbed look different from the areas that don't absorb it. Areas that are damaged or don't have good blood flow don't absorb the tracer. The damaged areas may be called cold spots or defects.

A stress myocardial perfusion scan assesses blood flow to the heart muscle when it is stressed. The heart is often stressed from exercise. If you're not able to exercise, you will be given a medicine to stress the heart instead. This medicine will increase your heart rate or dilate your blood vessels, just as with exercise. This is called a pharmacologic myocardial perfusion scan.

After the radioactive tracer is injected, a special type of camera is used. This can find the radioactive energy from outside the body. The camera takes images of the heart during stress and again later at rest. The 2 sets of images are compared.

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Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE)

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) uses echocardiography to assess the structure and function of the heart. During the procedure, a transducer (like a microphone) sends out ultrasonic sound waves. When the transducer is placed at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues, where the waves bounce or "echo" off of the heart structures. The transducer picks up the reflected waves and sends them to a computer. The computer displays the echoes as images of the heart walls and valves.

A traditional echocardiogram is done by putting the transducer on the surface of the chest. This is called a transthoracic echocardiogram. A transesophageal echocardiogram is done by inserting a probe with a transducer down the esophagus. This provides a clearer image of the heart because the sound waves don't have to pass through skin, muscle, or bone tissue. The TEE probe is much closer to the heart since the esophagus and heart are right next to each other. Being overweight or having certain lung diseases can interfere with images of the heart when the transducer is placed on the chest wall. Certain conditions of the heart are better seen with TEE, such as mitral valve disorders, blood clots or masses inside the heart, a tear of the lining of the aorta, and the structure and function of artificial heart valves.

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