DIAGNOSTIC TESTING & IMAGING

at Premier Cardiovascular Care

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

An electrocardiogram - also called an EKG or an ECG - is a noninvasive test that is used to measure the electrical activity of the heart. It can be used to monitor heart health or to help diagnose many cardiac conditions including: myocardial infarction (heart attack), arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation, pulmonary embolism, structural heart disease, and valvular heart disease.

 

As a diagnostic technique, an electrocardiogram test is typically performed in a cardiology clinic and takes around 5 to 10 minutes.

 

Ambulatory Rhythm Monitoring

Sometimes your cardiologist needs more information on the electrical activity of your heart, or your symptoms do not present during your initial electrocardiogram test. In this case, your cardiologist may suggest ambulatory rhythm monitoring.


Ambulatory rhythm monitoring uses a small portable electrocardiograph device to measure the electrical activity of your heart for an extended period of time outside of the clinic or the hospital.

 

Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)

The ankle-brachial index (ABI) is a noninvasive test that is used to assess how well blood is flowing in your legs. A lower ankle-brachial index score may indicate that your legs are affected by narrowed or blocked arteries, which helps your doctor diagnose whether or not you have peripheral artery disease.

 

The test takes around 10 to 15 minutes and is typically performed in a clinical setting by a vascular technician.

 

Electrophysiology Testing

Electrophysiology testing - also called electrophysiology mapping - is a minimally invasive technique that is used to look at the sources of electrical abnormalities in the heart. This type of testing is typically performed by an electrophysiologist (a cardiologist that specializes in the electrical activities of the heart) in an operating room.


Cardiac mapping technology allows an electrophysiologist to identify exactly what parts of the heart are responsible for an arrhythmia and correct them with targeted rhythm ablation or by implanting a pacemaker.

 

An echocardiogram uses ultrasound technology but is specific for the heart. There are two ways an echocardiogram is taken: transthoracic (TTE) and transesophageal (TEE). Both of these take about 15 minutes once images start being collected.


Echocardiography has a wide variety of uses. Because it gives real-time information, it can show both the structure and function of the heart. This makes it one of the ideal tests for heart failure or valvular heart disease. An echocardiogram may also be paired with other testing tools like an EKG to look at how the heart is dealing with coronary artery disease or an arrhythmia.

 

Cardiac catheterization is the insertion of a small tube called a catheter into a chamber of the heart or into the coronary arteries. Cardiologists use cardiac catheterization to see how well blood is flowing to the heart, take measurements (such as pressure), or to deploy minimally invasive treatments like angioplasty or stenting.


The most common indication for a cardiac catheterization is coronary artery disease (CAD). For those with known CAD, the catheterization can be used to evaluate which arteries are diseased, so treatment can be focused in the right places. In the case of a heart attack, cardiac catheterization is a life saving measure to re-establish blood flow in the obstructed vessel.

 

A peripheral angiogram is a technique used to get information about the arteries in your legs. During a peripheral angiogram, a small tube called a catheter is used to inject fluoroscopic dye into the arteries in your legs. The arteries are scanned by either specialized x-ray or MRI equipment to give information about the paths of the different arteries and to highlight any narrowing in the arteries that may be causing problems.


A peripheral angiogram is used to evaluate, diagnose, and (if appropriate) treat peripheral artery disease. The main benefit of a peripheral angiogram is getting a large amount of detail about the structure of the arteries in your leg and to see how blood is able to flow through these arteries.

 

Nuclear stress testing combines aspects of a stress test (where exercise or a medication is used to increase your heart rate) and nuclear imaging to provide highly accurate information about how your heart is working.


The nuclear stress test is most beneficial for patients with stable chest pain that is concerning for coronary artery disease. As the nuclear stress test is performed, a specialized radiotracer moves from your blood to the heart muscle, and a special camera can follow the radiotracer to see what parts of your heart are not getting enough blood.

 

Duplex ultrasound is an imaging technique that is ideal for looking at arteries and veins and how the blood flows through them. Ultrasound uses a transducer to emit sound waves, and based on how those waves return and are measured by the same transducer, the machine produces an image that can be interpreted by an ultrasound technician or a cardiologist.


Duplex ultrasound is a great tool in the evaluation of chronic venous disease or peripheral artery disease. Because it looks at the structure and blood flow in your vessels, it can tell your doctor which vessels are diseased and to what degree the disease has progressed.

 

Premier Cardiovascular Care of Dallas

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