Cardiac Imaging

What is cardiac imaging

Cardiac imaging is a form of medical imaging to look at the heart and circulatory system. There are many different ways of imaging to look at the heart. Each technique has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Doctors may order an imaging study of the heart as part of a general assessment or to assess a specific medical condition. Cardiac imaging is also used to rule out cardiac problems or to assess severity of a cardiac problem.

Cardiac imaging is designed to be minimally-invasive and it can be performed as an outpatient procedure.

What are the indications

When deciding upon a cardiacimaging technique, the doctor usually considers the patient’s unique case. They will also consider the specific goal ofimaging and order the test which seems most suitable.

Usually, the technician or doctor administering the imaging study is happy to explain the procedure to the patient. Patients should not be afraid of asking questions. They should also communicate concerns, especially if they are nervous or stressed.

What are the different types of cardiovascular imaging

The different types of cardiovascular imaging are:

    • Echocardiogram

      Echocardiogram uses ultrasonic waves to visualize theheart chamber and blood flow through the heart. It is used to assess the structure and function of the heart.

      Transoesophageal echocardiogram uses a specialized probe containing an ultrasound transducer at its tip. This probe is passed into the patient’s esophagus. Heart images are then generated the same way using ultrasonic waves and analysed.


    • Coronary calcium scoring/screening

      This test uses a special scan to image the heart to look for calcium deposits within the coronary arteries. Calcium is not present in normal coronary arteries.When calcium is present, it is a sign of atherosclerosis. A recentstudy has shown that the more coronary calcium you have, the greater yourriskof a heart attack.


    • Computed Tomography (CT) coronary angiography

      CT coronary angiographyis an imaging test using a specialised machine with an X-Ray source. This technique allows imaging of the heart in less than 10 seconds: depending on the equipment and protocol used. Images are then reconstructed and interpreted.

      CT coronary angiography shows calcium deposits and possible blockages or narrowings in the blood vessels. It is used to determine whether symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath are related to a coronary problem.

    • Cardiac MRI

      Cardiac MRI creates both still and moving pictures of your heart and major blood vessels. It uses radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create pictures of your heart. Unlike other imaging tests, cardiac MR doesn’t use ionizing radiation or carry any risk of causing cancer.

      Doctors use cardiac MRI to get pictures of the beating heart and to look at its structure and function.These pictures can help doctors decide the best way to treat people who have heart problems.

      However, the uses are sometimes limited by lengthy protocols, fear of enclosed spaces and contraindications. ( Refer to cardiac MR)

      Cardiac MRI is a common test. It’s used to diagnose and assess many diseases and conditions, including:

      • Coronary heart disease
      • Damage caused by a heart attack
      • Heart failure
      • Heart valve problems
      • Congenital heart defects (heart defects present at birth)
      • Pericarditis (a condition in which the membrane, or sac, around your heart is inflamed)
      • Cardiac tumors
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)

    A heart positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer. This test looks for disease or poor blood flow in the heart.

    A heart PET scan shows how organs and tissues are working. It can tell your doctor whether areas of your heart muscle are receiving enough blood. It can also show heart damage or scar tissue in the heart.

Last Reviewed : 5 Ogos 2013
Writer : Dr. Ainol Shareha bt. Sahar