Cardiac imaging refers to two types of imaging tests that help doctors assess how well your heart is functioning in real time. These tests are cardiac CT (computed tomography) and cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute offers exceptional cardiac imaging to help diagnose and treat heart problems and vascular conditions. If you or a loved one would like to schedule a consultation for advanced cardiac imaging throughout the Central California region, Find a Dignity Health Doctor.
Are You a Candidate for Advanced Cardiac Imaging?
If you have heart disease symptoms, your doctor may recommend initial cardiac tests like an EKG. If further tests are need, you’ll be referred to a radiologist for advanced cardiac imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI.
These tests help reveal:
- Abnormalities including heart defects
- Fluid inside the pericardial sac surrounding the heart
- How well your heart pumps
- Heart damage (like scar tissue)
- The structure of your heart
Cardiac imaging can help your cardiologist at Dignity Health diagnose the following cardiovascular conditions:
What to Expect from Advanced Cardiac Imaging at Dignity Health
A cardiac imaging test will be performed in one of our state-of-the-art hospitals or outpatient imaging centers. For a CT or MRI, you’ll lie on a table that slides through the imaging machine. You may be given a sedative to help you relax during the test. In some cases, newer model CT and MRI machines are not completely enclosed.
To make sure you feel comfortable before your test, a provider will explain:
- Contrast dye. An iodine dye is injected into your bloodstream to aid with imaging. Be sure to let your doctor know if you’ve had a reaction to contrast dye or if you have kidney problems. It’s common to have a slight metallic taste in mouth, a slight burning sensation at the injection site, or overall warm flushing from the contrast. These usually last only a few seconds.
- MRI. MRI machines are noisy, so you’ll be given earplugs or headphones to help block the noise. The test will last 30 to 90 minutes. MRIs may damage some implants, particularly pacemakers and defibrillators.
- CT scan. This scan is very similar to MRI, but uses low levels of ionizing radiation to produce images, slightly more than an X-ray. Pregnant women may need an alternate test. A CT lasts less than 30 minutes.
Once your imaging exam is complete, you’ll be able to return to normal activities if you haven’t been sedated. If you received something to help you relax, you may need someone to drive you home.
Using the latest technologies for your best possible care, St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute performs advanced cardiac imaging throughout the Central California region.