An accurate diagnosis is the first step in treating any sort of heart abnormality or disease. There are a number of ways doctors at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center can diagnose heart ailments and select the best treatment. The following tests are frequently performed at this hospital. For each method there are several different approaches. It is best to speak with your doctor to determine what specific testing you need.
A diagnostic cardiac catheterization is a special study of the heart which allows the physician to see the chambers, valves or coronary arteries. A doctor guides a thin plastic tube or catheter through an artery or vein in the arm or groin. This allows the doctor to take a better look at the patient’s heart and blood vessels.
During an echocardiogram, also called an echo, a technician uses a painless technique to send sound waves into the patient’s chest. This produces a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.
Also called EKG, an electrocardiogram measures the electrical activity in a heartbeat. Patients can be hooked to electrodes or wear a heart monitor (a small box that weighs less than one pound). The monitoring devices send signals to a technician that observes the heart rate and rhythm.
Nuclear medicine is a unique type of medical imaging that uses very small and safe amounts of radioactive materials in conjunction with a specialized camera to diagnose and treat disease. Heart scans are most often used to image blood flow to, and the function of, the heart.
Transesophageal Echocardiograms (TEE)
During this test, an ultrasound transducer (which produces high frequency sound waves) provides pictures of the heart's valves and chambers and helps the physician evaluate the pumping action of the heart. The transducer is on the end of a long tube which is passed into the esophagus.
Treadmill Stress Testing
Stress/exercise testing involves studying the heart while under maximum cardiac stress. It allows a technician to measure the heart's efficiency when subjected to predetermined exercise or cardiac medications. Patients may walk on a treadmill or lie still under a camera depending on how the physician wants to see their heart function.
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