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Cardiac Imaging

Advanced cardiovascular imaging at the Heart & Vascular Center employs the most sophisticated imaging equipment available. This is coupled with very experienced cardiologists that interpret the results.   and the experience and expertise to apply it and interpret results.

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Resources include:
  • Echocardiography and stress echocardiography to identify significant coronary artery disease and heart muscle disease
  • 3-D ultrasonic visualization of cardiovascular anatomy, including aortic aneurysm
  • 64-slice, multi-detector CT scanner
  • Precise MRI assessment of congenital heart disease cardiomyopathies and myocardial viability
In addition to providing innovative diagnostic procedures, ongoing research is helping to bring advanced diagnostic equipment into the operating room. This combination of techniques gives surgeons clearer, real-time images of the critical heart and vascular structures in their care.

Commonly Asked Questions about Cardiac Imaging


What is an echocardiogram?

Echocardiography is a technique that sends sound waves into the chest that reflect on the heart's walls and valves.  The returned waves show the shape, texture and movement of the heart's walls and the valves on an echocardiogram.  The waves also show the size of the heart chambers and their efficiency. This technique is non-invasive and causes no pain or risk to patients.  You simply lie down and a technician will run a transducer wand over your chest.

What is stress echo?

Stress echocardiography or stress echo is a specialized echo exam performed during and/or immediately after some form of physical stress, such as treadmill exercise or simulated by the intravenous infusion of a medicine that mimics the effect of exercise.  Stress echo is used to help diagnose coronary heart disease.

What is trans-esophageal echocardiography?

Trans-esophageal echo (TEE) is a special type of imaging procedure that is used in patients with special conditions like emphysema, closely spaced ribs or obesity where the access to the heart through the chest wall is not possible.  In these situations, a tube  with a transducer attached is paged down a person's throat and into the esophagus.  Because the esophagus is close to the heart, the images from TEE can give very clear pictures of the heart and its structures.

What is the advantage of the 64-slice CT ?

Computerize tomography is a form of X-ray imaging of the heart. It involves taking serial X-rays of the heart, thinly slicing the heart using an X-ray knife, then re-constructing them (3D reconstruction) with the use of sophisticated computer software, to form a virtual heart.

Earlier version of computed tomography viewed the body tissue in 16 "slices" per rotation. The introduction of 64-slice cardiac CT allows nearly all patients to be scanned with very high resolution.  (Dividing the space into smaller units, increases the resolution per slice). Such high resolution allows visualization of the entire coronary tree with extremely high accuracy and detail. Individual atheromatous plaques can be detected and characterized. Calcification can be visualized and used as an added variable in disease management.

In addition to higher resolution, the 64-slide scanners are fast.  Scan times now take only seconds (usually 5-13 seconds), which  means that even patients with severe pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure can hold their breath for the required length of time.  Also the fast speed reduces motion effects of the patient.

CT scannin is non-invasive and causes no pain.

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Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine
Copyright 2014 Washington University School of Medicine