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Physicians at Crozer Health can use a number of medical imaging technologies can be used to visualize heart function and blood flow.
Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring
Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring is a non-invasive test that reveals the presence, location, and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. A Computed tomography (CT) scan produces multiple images of the arteries and heart muscle and determines if there is coronary artery calcium and, if so, to what extent.
The results of a Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring procedure are described using a number system. A negative cardiac CT score shows no calcification within the coronary arteries (Calcium Score of 0). This means that the risk of having a heart attack over the next two to five years very low. A positive score means that coronary artery disease is present even if the patient is experiencing no symptoms. The amount of calcification can help in the prediction of the likelihood of a heart attack in the future. It also helps to determine what measures should be taken such as preventive medicine, and changes in diet, and increased exercise.
Cardiac catheterization enables physicians to see the coronary arteries and heart valves, showing narrowed or blocked arteries, defective valves or other problems. It is generally performed to diagnose a heart condition and determine whether a patient needs treatment to open a blocked artery or re-route the blood flow around it.
With the help of X-ray guidance, doctors can access a patient’s arteries using catheters and wires that are inserted through a small incision in the wrist, or sometimes in the arm or groin. General anesthesia is not required and a patient doesn’t need to spend multiple days in the hospital.
Nuclear Stress Test
A nuclear stress test is used to show how well blood flows through the heart muscle. It also shows how well the heart muscle is pumping. This test may be done during rest and while you exercise.
The test uses a tiny amount of a radioactive substance, called a radioactive tracer. The tracer travels through the bloodstream and is absorbed by the healthy heart muscle. On the scan, the areas where tracer has been absorbed look different from the areas that do not absorb it. Areas that are damaged or don't have good blood flow do not absorb the tracer. The damaged areas may be called “cold spots” or “defects.”
A nuclear stress test assesses blood flow to the heart muscle when it is stressed. The heart is usually “stressed” from exercise. But, if you are unable to exercise, the heart can be stressed by taking a certain medicine that increases your heart rate or dilate blood vessels as would occur during exercise.
After the radioactive tracer is injected, a special type of camera is used that can detect the radioactive energy from outside the body. The camera takes images of the heart during stress and again later at rest. The two sets of images are compared.
This common test can identify a number of internal issues that can contribute to or be an indicator of heart failure, including calcium deposits, fluid in your lungs, aortic aneurysms or other blood vessel problems.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is a radiation-free, usually non-invasive way to produce high-quality pictures inside the body from multiple planes. This scan picks up the body’s radiofrequency signals and converts them into three-dimensional images.
Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function (in "real time," like a live TV broadcast), and to assess blood flow through various vessels. An advantage of ultrasound is that it visualizes certain structures without using radiation and it can also guide procedures such as catheterization.
Schedule an Appointment
To learn more about cardiac imaging or request an appointment, please call 1-866-95-PULSE (1-866-957-8573) or request an appointment online.