Heart tests are the many different tools that we use to figure out what might be causing your symptoms. The nature of your symptoms will also help us determine which tests to run. Heart tests are done in the Diagnostic Imaging department located on the ground floor at KGH. The easiest way to find Diagnostic Imaging is through the hospital’s main entrance on Stuart Street. Volunteers at the main desk will be able to help you find your way. For a map of the main floor click here.
There are many different heart tests done at KGH on a daily basis. They are:
In this procedure a small catheter is inserted into your wrist or groin then with the guidance of X-ray the catheter is moved to the arteries of the heart. A dye is injected to make help make your arteries easier to see. This test helps your doctor determine if there are any blockages in your heart. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications or begin taking certain medications before the procedure. Most people can have a light meal before this test.
This is an ultrasound that shows blood flow through the arteries in the neck, no special preparation is required for this test. For more information about ultrasounds click here.
Computed Tomography Scan
Computed Tomography (CT) scan, also know as a CAT scan are unlike conventional X-Ray images. The images appear as slices, like slices in a loaf of bread. An X-ray technologist, who has had special training in CT scanning, will perform your scan. The images are then read and reported on by a radiologist, who is a doctor with specialized training in computerized tomography. For more information on CT scans click here.
Chest X-ray (CXR)
A chest X-ray is a picture of the chest that shows your heart, lungs, airway, blood vessels and lymph nodes. A chest X-ray also shows the bones of your spine and chest, including your breastbone, ribs, collarbone, as well as the upper part of your spine. For more information on X-rays at KGH click here.
This is a non-invasive test that records the electrical activity of your heart. You will be asked to lay flat and sticky tabs will be placed across various areas of your chest and attached to a machine. Overall, the procedure is quick and takes only minutes to complete. You will need to remove jewelry and perhaps your shirt, no other preparation is required.
Echocardiogram (ECHO), Transthoracic (TTE), Transesophageal (TEE)
These are ultrasound tests that are used to that look at your heart muscle function and heart valves.
In a Transthoracic ECHO, a cold jelly is placed on the surface of your chest then a wand is rubbed across your chest to produce images of your heart. This is a non-invasive test and no special preparation is required.
During the Transesophageal ECHO you will receive some medication to help you relax as a tube is placed into your mouth and down into your throat. This will allow us to see your heart muscle and valves more clearly. You will be asked to not eat before this test. You will need someone to drive you home after it is complete.
An electrophysiology study (EP test or EP study) is a minimally invasive procedure that tests the electrical system of your heart to assess your electrical activity and pathways. The test is used to investigate the cause, location, and best treatment for various abnormal heart rhythms. This type of study is performed by an electrophysiologist using a single or multiple catheters placed in your heart through a vein or artery.
EPINEPHRINE OR PROCAINAMIDE CHALLENGE TESTS
To help us determine if you have a heart rhythm problem, also known as an arrhythmia, we may perform an Epinephrine or Procainamide Challenge. This is a test that looks at the electrical system of your heart and is done on an outpatient basis. For more information on this test, click here.
Left Ventricular Function (MUGA)
A Multiple-Gated Acquisition (MUGA) scan looks at the chambers of your heart, especially the function of your left ventricle. A radioactive substance (isotope) is injected to you through an IV, then you wait for a period of time to ensure the isotope has made its way to your blood stream. A special camera takes pictures to assess how your blood (containing the isotope) pumps through the heart chambers. You will have ECG stickers placed on your chest and you will be asked to lie still on a small table during the exam.
Myocardial Perfusion Study (MIBI)
This test looks at the health of your heart arteries and muscle. MIBI is a name for the radioactive tracer given to you through an IV line. You will have two scans as part of this exam, one after the dye is inserted, while you are resting. The second few hours later after you have exercised. If you are unable to exercise, you may be given medication instead.
You will be asked to exercise on a treadmill or bicycle and at the same time an electrical tracing of your heart will be performed by ECG, see above. This test will look for changes in your ECG. No special preparation is required for this test, however you should wear comfortable shoes.
Similar to the stress test above, however an ultrasound of your heart is performed to look for abnormalities in your heart's muscle function. An abnormality may indicate a heart problem. If you are not able to exercise for this test, your health-care team may suggest the use of a medication to make your heart act like it is exercising.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within your body. Most MRI machines are large, tube-shaped magnets. For more information about MRI please click here.