Patient Guide to Heart Tests
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Introduction
Coronary angiogram, cardiac catheterization, ultrasound, thallium scan, stress echo, MultiSlice CT angiography, MRI, MRA...

...for the patient who has been having chest pains, one or more of these tests will be recommended to determine if coronary artery disease is the cause.

"Imaging tests" help the cardiologist see inside the patient's heart -- to diagnose the presence of heart disease and determine if the disease is at an early stage that can be controlled through medication and lifestyle change, or if the patient might benefit from an intervention such as an angioplasty or stent.

    
t.cam gamma camera
Nuclear medicine -- t.cam™ gamma camera**

64-slice ct angiogram
64-MultiSlice CT scan**
   

Some of these tests are relatively new and imaging technology is developing at a rapid pace. Patients need to educate themselves so that they understand the testing options available. Increasingly sophisticated and less invasive testing is allowing patients to benefit from advances in safety, accuracy and comfort.

For example, CT (computed tomography) is a type of imaging that played a relatively limited role in heart disease, mainly to screen for calcium. But the recent development of the MultiSlice (or multidetector) scanner is moving this technology to the front of the line. Many patients who would have previously been referred for cardiac catheterization for diagnosing coronary artery disease may now be diagnosed using less invasive CT angiography. With 64-slice scanning technology and beyond, CT angiography may be moving towards replacing the "gold standard" of cardiac catheterization for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease.


This special section describes the most common imaging tests currently in use and explains what each test can tell your doctor.


Electrocardiogram (EKG / ECG)

Chest X-ray

Exercise Stress Test with
Echocardiography (Ultrasound)

Nuclear Stress Test (Thallium or Technetium)

MultiSlice Computed Tomography and
CT Angiogram (CTA)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Angiography (MRI and MRA)

Cardiac Catheterization

Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)


** photo courtesy of Toshiba America Medical Systems

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