Assessing a heart or vascular condition quickly and accurately can save your life or help to preserve your quality of life. In partnership with the Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute, the physicians and staff of Tulane Medical Center provide quality care using the most up-to-date imaging modalities for the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular disorders. We use a wide range of protocols to ensure patients’ conditions are thoroughly assessed and treated with the most appropriate therapies.
Many heart screening and diagnostic tests are performed on an outpatient basis. Depending on your situation, your primary care physician or cardiologist may order several tests in order to gain accurate and complete information and help prevent future heart health issues.
Cardiovascular imaging and diagnostic tests available at Tulane Medical Center include:
- Cardiac CT Angiography
- Arterial Doppler Flow Studies
- Echocardiography, including Stress Echo
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (Nuclear Cardiology)
- Stress Testing
- Tilt Table Testing
- Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
If you are experiencing heart disease symptoms, your cardiologist may order a stress test if he or she suspects coronary artery disease. A stress test is used to gain insights about how your heart works during physical activity. It may help uncover problems that are not apparent when your heart is at rest. This test is not meant to detect early coronary artery disease. If you have already been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, your heart doctor may order a stress test to help guide or evaluate your treatment plan.
Your primary care clinician or cardiologist will work with you to choose the type of cardiology stress test that fits your needs.
- Treadmill Stress Test
Also known as exercise stress test, this is the simplest type of stress test. It involves walking on a treadmill while your heartbeat (via an EKG), blood pressure and breathing are tested. Exercise induced symptoms, changes in blood pressure or ECG changes may then indicate that further testing is needed.
- Stress Echo
An echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) is performed while at rest and then again immediately after exercising or following the administration of dobutamine, a medication that simulates exercise. Information for the ECG and echo images may then be used to guide further diagnostic testing or treatment.
- Nuclear Stress Test
With this type of stress test, a radioactive tracer is delivered by vein and images of the heart are taken with a specialized camera. This is done both before and after stress (either with exercise or following a medication.) The images then provide an accurate assessment of whether portions of the heart muscle are deprived of adequate blood supply, and this information is used to help make treatment decisions.
A heart CT scan takes three-dimensional x-ray images and is primarily used to evaluate for coronary artery disease. Your doctor may order a cardiac CT if you have been experiencing symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. During a non-invasive CT angiogram, contrast dye is administered by vein to help highlight the coronary arteries and check for narrowing or blockage. It can also be used to assess blood flow dynamics in the coronary arteries to calculate significant coronary artery disease. This type of test can help avoid unnecessary invasive testing.
- Advanced Blood Flow Testing
Many times, a cardiac CT scan will provide your doctor with enough information to determine the next steps in your treatment plan. Other times, advanced testing needed to show how each blockage is affecting the flow of blood to your heart.
Tulane Health System is the first hospital in the New Orleans region offering HeartFlow® FFR-CT Analysis. This advanced, non-invasive test does not require an additional test but instead uses the current CT scan to create a computerized 3D model of your coronary arteries and calculate how much each blockage is limiting blood flow. With this information, your cardiologist can develop a treatment plan.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of your heart. It uses sound waves to examine your heart’s size, shape and motion. It can capture still and moving images without exposing you to any radiation. This test can help identify abnormally functioning heart valves and heart muscle function. There are two ways echocardiograms are performed:
This is your standard cardiology echo test. A technician will apply gel to your skin and use a transducer to take pictures of your heart. It is simple, painless, non-invasive and can add a lot of valuable information before needing to undergo more complicated testing. Contrast dye may be administered through an IV to help with picture clarity.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get a clear image of the heart with a standard echo. During this type of echo, a flexible tube with a small transducer is guided down your throat into the esophagus. From there, it can take clearer images of the heart. And don’t worry, you will be given medicine so that you don’t experience any discomfort during this quick and painless procedure.
To learn more or make an appointment, please contact the Tulane Cardiology Clinic at (504) 988-6113.