Cardiac Imaging Exams

Computed Tomography Angiogram (CTA)
Coronary Calcification SmartScoreTM
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Nuclear Medicine
CT/P.E.T. "Fusion"
Other Cardiac Exams

Computed Tomography Angiogram (CTA) is an examination that uses X-rays to visualize blood flow in arterial vessels throughout the body, from arteries serving the brain to those bringing blood to the lungs, kidneys, and the arms and legs. CT combines the use of X-rays with computerized analysis of the images. Beams of X-rays are passed from a rotating device through the area of interest in the patient's body from several different angles so as to create cross-sectional images, which then are assembled by computer into a three-dimensional picture of the area being studied. Compared to catheter angiography, which involves placement of a catheter and injecting contrast material into an artery, CTA is a noninvasive and a more patient-friendly procedure; contrast material is injected into a peripheral vein rather than an artery. This exam has been used to screen large numbers of individuals for arterial diseas.

CTA is commonly used to:
- examine the pulmonary arteries in the lungs to rule out pulmonary embolism, a serious but treatable condition.
- visualize blood flow in the renal arteries (those supplying the kidneys) in patients with high blood pressure and those suspected of having kidney disorders. Narrowing (stenosis) of a renal artery is a cause of high blood pressure (hypertension) in some patients, and can be corrected. A special computerized method of viewing the images makes CT renal angiography a very accurate examination. It
is also done in prospective kidney donors.
- identify aneurysms in the aorta or in other major blood vessels. Aneurysms are diseased areas of a weakened blood vessel wall that bulges out-like a bulge in a tire. Aneurysms are life threatening because they can rupture.
- identify dissection in the aorta or its major branches. Dissection means that the layers of the artery wall peel away from each other-like the layers of an onion. Dissection can cause pain and can be life-threatening.
- identify a small aneurysm or arterio-venous malformation inside the brain which can be life threatening.
detect atherosclerotic disease that has narrowed the arteries to the legs.

CTA also is used to detect narrowing or obstruction of arteries in the pelvis and in the carotid arteries bringing blood from the heart to the brain. When a stent has been placed to restore blood flow in a diseased artery, CT angiography will show whether it is serving its purpose. Examining arteries in the brain may help reach a correct diagnosis in patients who complain of headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, or fainting. Injured patients may benefit from CTA if there is a possibility that one or more arteries have been damaged. In patients with a tumor it may be helpful for the surgeon to know the details of arteries feeding the growth.


Coronary Calcification SmartScoreTM - This test allows physicians to measure the smallest particles of calcified plaque that have built up in the coronary arteries. Calcification is the earliest marker for arteriosclerosis, which can lead to a heart attack.

Risk factors for coronary artery disease include:
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Family history of heart disease
Women over 40
Men over 45

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to provide detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. Using specialized equipment, MRI generates high-resolution images that have the ability to identify many diseases in the brain, spine, musculoskeletal system and abdominal and pelvic organs. MRI is the most advanced imaging diagnostic tool in the evaluation of many medical conditions.

For more information on Cardiac MRI, please visit our MRI page.


Nuclear Medicine is a safe, painless, and effective imaging modality that provides specific information about organ function and structure. Using very small doses of radioactive materials, comparable to that received during a diagnostic X-ray, metabolic information is obtained.

For more information on Cardiac Nuclear Medicine, please visit our Nuclear Medicine page.


P.E.T. stands for Positron Emission Tomography. It is a safe and noninvasive imaging procedure that adds an important new dimension to a physician's ability to diagnose and manage disease.

For more information on P.E.T. scans, please visit our P.E.T. page.


CT / P.E.T. "Fusion" - University MRI is one of the few centers in the nation to successfully "fuse" CT and P.E.T. scan technology to create three-dimensional, detailed images. With this state-of-the-art technology, physicians are now able to observe lesions with greater accuracy and specificity. This technology is used primarily in oncology, neurology, and cardiology.

For more information on CT scans, please visit our CT page.


Other Cardiac Exams - Other cardiac imaging exams include MUGA, Echocardiography and Rest/Stress SPECT Perfusion Imaging. Please contact our office for more information on these exams






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