Patients who are referred to our state-of-the-art cardiovascular imaging facilities often have symptoms that may be linked to cardiovascular disease. They may also have medical devices such as a pacemaker or a defibrillator, that would prevent them from having imaging because of potential complications. We may also use cardiac imaging tests to evaluate patients who are considered at risk—even without symptoms—due to age, obesity, or other health conditions. Sometimes these imaging tests eliminate the need for further procedures or treatment. Cardiovascular imaging is also used during an interventional cardiology procedure to guide the catheter through the blood vessels for precise diagnosis and treatment.
The cardiac imaging section is equipped with the leading cardiac imaging technologies. Physicians consider a specific patient’s medical history, symptoms and diagnostic needs to order a specific type of imaging test. Imaging tests offered at Temple include:
- Echocardiogram: One of the most common imaging procedures performed at Temple, an echocardiogram uses ultrasound (sound waves) to create a moving picture of the heart. This technique can give information about how well the heart is pumping, heart chamber size, muscle thickness, and the presence of fluid around the heart’s lining.
- Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A frequently used imaging technique at Temple, MRI uses radio waves to provide detailed information on the anatomy and function of heart and major blood vessels. Sometimes a contrast agent may be injected into a vein during cardiac MRI, which will provide more detail about the heart and blood vessels. Patients with implanted pacemakers and defibrillators, sometimes preventing them from having MRIs at other facilities, can be imaged under the guidance of our electrophysiology team, in collaboration with our imaging specialists.
- Cardiac CT (computed tomography or CAT scan): This technology is used for screening (coronary calcium scoring), coronary CT angiography, CT angiography and assessment of heart function. Cardiac CT is a painless imaging procedure that may use a contrast agent to provide a close look at the anatomy of the heart in motion. This technique uses an X-ray machine that moves in a circle around the patient’s body. A computer then compiles a three-dimensional picture of the heart and blood vessels.
- Nuclear Imaging: Designed to evaluate how blood is flowing through the heart, to evaluate the extent of injury to the heart muscle, and to diagnose problems with heart function. Nuclear imaging uses a safe level, radioactive material, that is injected into the bloodstream as a tracer of blood flow. Two types of nuclear imaging tests are available at Temple:
- SPECT imaging (single photon emission CT) evaluates the effectiveness of blood flow to the heart muscle and the extent of any prior damage to the heart muscle that may have occurred.
- PET (positron emission tomography) fulfills a similar purpose but uses measures of the heart’s energy utilization, as well.
- Electrocardiogram: also known as EKG or ECG. An electrocardiogram monitors the electrical activity of the heartbeat, helping to diagnose heart conditions related to heart rhythm.