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Advanced Imaging
Advanced Imaging

At One Heart Clinic we have access to the best quality advanced imaging equipment with fast turnaround times to ensure our patients have access to the care you need, when you need it.

What is advanced imaging - and why do we use it?

Medical imaging is the technique and process of imaging the inside of your body for clinical analysis and medical intervention.

It gives us a visual representation of the function of organs or tissues. Medical imaging seeks to reveal internal structures hidden by the skin and bones- it helps us diagnose and treat disease.

We use cardiac CT and MRI so we can see images of your heart, and how well it is working ― including how your blood moves. The detailed, high-quality images that these scans produce, that show your doctor your heart in two or three dimensions, help us figure out what's wrong, and make a diagnosis.

What is a Cardiac CT scan?

Advanced Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) scan uses X-rays — in many layered slices — to produce a detailed look at internal structures. Using this imaging technology in combination with an intravenous (IV) contrast (dye) helps clearly show the heart, vessels, and circulation.

When the procedure is used to look at the heart, it may be referred to as CTCA (CT Coronary Angiography), cardiac CT or CAT scan. All of these terms refer to the same test.

Why would we perform a cardiac CT scan, and what happens during the scan?

A cardiac CT scan is used to look inside the heart to fully evaluate the heart muscle, pulmonary veins, and coronary arteries. The test can also be performed using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a non-radiation-based study that uses high powered magnets to see inside the body. Your doctor may prefer one modality over the other based on your symptoms.

Both scans are non-invasive outpatient procedures.

What happens during the scan?

Once in the procedure room, we will start an IV to administer the contrast solution. This is normally put in a vein in your arm or hand.

Once on the scanning table, electrodes that measure the electrical activity of the heart will be attached to your chest. You will raise your arms over your head for the test. If you are having an MRI, you will be enclosed in the magnet, which may be claustrophobic for some.

After the test, you can continue with your regular daily activities.

Calcium Score

To evaluate your risk for heart disease, your doctor may recommend a CT scan that provides a calcium score, which shows if there is coronary calcification in the arteries. If found, it can help predict future cardiovascular disease.

Those most at risk include those with a family history of coronary artery disease (CAD), men over age 45 and women over age 55, current or previous smoker, those who are overweight, and have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.

While this is an excellent test in predicting particular types of coronary artery disease, it is not definitive due to certain soft plaques (buildup) not being visible using this technology.

The scan is synced with your heartbeat to look for calcium deposits within the arteries. Once the test is finished, if calcium is noted, it will be given a score that estimates the extent of coronary artery disease.

Your doctor can discuss steps to take to lower your risk of developing heart disease. This test is normally performed under the guidance of a doctor who has specialist training in cardiovascular imaging.

What is a Cardiac MRI scan?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that takes detailed pictures of the inside of your body. A cardiac MRI is a scan of your heart and blood vessels. The machine uses magnetic and radio waves to show detailed pictures of the inside of your heart. These detailed, high-quality images in two or three dimensions help your healthcare provider figure out what’s wrong and make a diagnosis. Cardiac MRI scans also look at the blood supply to your heart.

Why would we perform a cardiac MRI scan?

A cardiac MRI is performed to obtain a comprehensive analysis of heart structure, function and diseases. Your doctor will order a cardiac MRI when they’re trying to diagnose a problem with your heart, such as the cause of your chest pain, shortness of breath or fainting, an enlarged heart, thickening of heart muscle, heart failure, heart valve disease and heart muscle damage, inflammation, and infection, amongst many other things.

What happens during the scan?

During the scan, you’ll need to lie down on a long platform that will slide into the empty space in the middle of the MRI machine, which is shaped like a large doughnut on its side. We may put stickers with electrocardiogram leads on your chest and a belt below your chest to collect information about your heartbeats and breathing during your cardiac MRI scan.

The machine is quite loud during the scan, but you’ll be able to communicate with the person operating the machine. They will give you some instructions on when to breathe or hold your breath.

After the test, you can continue with your regular daily activities.