Advanced diagnostic tests offer detailed insight into the inner workings of your heart. Depending on your needs, your doctor may suggest a noninvasive CT or MRI test.
- Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT) — Using X-rays, a CT scan creates computerized images or 3D models of your heart and its blood vessels. A coronary calcium scan looks for calcium buildup in the arteries — one way to identify early heart disease. Vascular or coronary CT angiography (CTA) looks for narrowed or blocked arteries around or in the heart. These tests take only a few minutes. CT also allows your cardiologist to create a three-dimensional image of your heart to guide or plan therapies for structural heart disease or congenital heart disease.
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — An MRI scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves (not radiation) to create pictures of your heart, revealing information that may not show up with an X-ray, ultrasound or CT scan. Vascular MR angiography (MRA) looks at your blood’s movement through vessels or searches for a vein problem, such as an aneurysm, tear or blockage. MRAs take 30 to 60 minutes to complete.
- HeartFlow CT Scan Analysis — Following a CT scan, the HeartFlow CT Scan Analysis can be used to help diagnose coronary artery disease. This non-invasive heart test uses your coronary CT scan to provide a personalized 3D model of your coronary arteries. The model shows how each blockage affects blood flow to your heart. This detailed information, which was previously only available through an invasive procedure, helps your doctor determine the next step in your treatment plan. The scan analysis can also help reduce the need for follow-up testing and evaluation.
- Both CT and MRI involve lying on your back with electrodes attached to your chest to record your heart’s activity while you’re inside a circular scanner. CT and some MRI scans include the injection of a contrast dye so that heart structures, blood vessels and potential problems show up more clearly.