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The Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory
in the Heart and Vascular Institute is committed to excellence in screening,
diagnosis, and monitoring of cardiac disease. Our Laboratory provides
studies of the blood flow through the heart and measures he heart’s
pumping ability to assess conditions such as fluid around the heart or
congestive heart failure.
Our Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory is fully accredited by the Intersocietal
Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories. Through
compliance with their published standards, we are recognized as one of
a select number of echocardiography laboratories in the United States, committed to providing high quality testing for the diagnosis of cardiac disease.
Cardiac ultrasound testing includes:
- Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)
This is the most common type of echocardiogram. Views of the heart are obtained
by moving the transducer to different locations on your chest or abdominal
wall. This test includes two-dimensional images of the heart beating, measurements
of the speed and direction of t he blood flow (Doppler), and color images of
the blood flowing through the heart (Color Flow Mapping).
- Transesophageal echocardiograms (TEE)
This test requires passing the transducer through the esophagus to
obtain more direct pictures of your heart. This is usually performed
when pictures from the most common type of echo are not clear due
to shadows from the bones of the chest wall or lung interference.
The TEE requires a mild sedative and an anesthetic is applied to
your throat to make you more comfortable during the test.
- Pediatric Echocardiograms
This test is performed on children younger than 18 years of age to
check for genetic abnormalities and birth defects.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test
that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart.
An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings
on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves.
The heart is a muscular pump made up of four chambers. The two upper
chambers are called atria, and the two lower chambers are called ventricles.
A natural electrical system causes the heart muscle to contract and pump
blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body.
for more information on an EKG)
An ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG
or ECG) records the electrical activity of your heart while you do your
usual activities. Many heart problems become noticeable only during activity,
such as exercise, eating, sex, stress, bowel movements, or even sleeping.
A continuous 24-hour recording is more likely to detect any abnormal
heartbeats that occur during these activities.
Many people have irregular heartbeats from time to time. The importance
of irregular heartbeats depends on the type of pattern they produce,
how often they occur, how long they last, and whether they occur at the
same time you have symptoms. Because arrhythmias can occur off and on,
it may be difficult to record an arrhythmia while you are in the doctor's
The most common type is the Holter
monitor recording. It provides a 24- to 72-hour record of the electrical
signals from your heart. A standard EKG monitors only 40 to 50 heartbeats
during the brief period you are attached to the machine. A continuous
recorder monitors about 100,000 heartbeats in 24 hours and is likely
to find any heart problems that happen with activity.
Cardiac Stress Test
A cardiac stress or exercise electrocardiogram is a test that
checks for changes in your heart while you exercise. Sometimes EKG abnormalities
can be seen only during exercise or while symptoms are present. This
test is sometimes called a "stress test" or a "treadmill
test." During a stress test, you may either walk on a motor-driven
treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle.
A stress test translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings
on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves.
A resting EKG is always done before an exercise EKG test, and results
of the resting EKG are compared to the results of the cardiac stress
test. A resting EKG may also show a heart problem that would make an
exercise EKG unsafe.
Nuclear Cardiology Studies
The most common nuclear cardiology
study is a cardiac perfusion scan. This scan measures the amount of blood
in your heart muscle at rest and during exercise. It is often done to
find out what may be causing chest pain, and it is performed after a
heart attack to see if areas of the heart are not getting enough blood
or how much heart muscle has been damaged.
During the scan, a camera takes pictures of the heart after a special
test medicine (radioactive tracer) is injected into a vein in the arm.
The tracer travels through the blood and into the heart muscle. As the
tracer moves through the heart muscle, areas that have good blood flow
absorb the tracer. Areas that do not absorb tracer may not be getting
enough blood or may have been damaged by a heart attack.
Two sets of pictures may be made during a cardiac perfusion
scan. One set is taken while you are resting. Another set is taken after
your heart has been stressed, either by exercise or after you have been
given a medicine. The resting pictures are then compared with the stress
The Vascular Ultrasound Laboratory is committed to excellence in screening,
diagnosis, and monitoring of vascular disease. The Laboratory provides
studies of the blood flow through the arteries and veins to diagnose blockages
that may lead to a stroke or pulmonary embolism. Vascular ultrasound image
includes imaging and flow mapping as well as physiologic monitoring of how the vascular disease has progressed.
Our Vascular Ultrasound Laboratory is fully accredited by the Intersocietal
Commission for the Accreditation of Vascular Laboratories. Through compliance
with their published standards, we are recognized as one of a select number
of vascular laboratories in the United States committed to providing
high quality testing for the diagnosis of vascular disease.
Vascular ultrasound tests are commonly known as Doppler or duplex studies.
They use high-pitched sound waves to reflect off the blood vessels and
create pictures of the blood moving through the veins and arteries.
At the time of testing, a brief medical history of present symptoms and
past medical problems will be obtained. During the test, a water based
gel is placed on the area to be tested. A flat surface transducer is rubbed
over those areas to obtain pictures and measurements for your physician
Our Vascular Ultrasound Laboratory performs multiple combinations and
types of vascular procedures that obtain information on arteries or veins
in the abdomen, neck, arms, and legs. Imaging consists of two-dimensional
(2D) pictures of the blood vessels that give your doctor information on
the anatomy of your arteries and veins. Doppler measures the flow of blood to give your doctor information on blockages and clots.
All vascular ultrasound tests are non-invasive and do
not require needles, dyes, or X-rays.
Doppler studies listen to the blood flowing and converts the sound waves
to blood flow patterns or graphs. Changes in the patterns indicate narrowed
areas that are restricting blood flow. Blood pressures may be used on the
legs to add further information about the blood flow restriction.
Duplex is a combination of imaging (2D) and Doppler to get pictures of
the vessels with a measurement of the speed and direction of the blood
- Color Flow Mapping
This procedure includes duplex and Doppler converted to not only graphs
but a color representation of the blood flowing.
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