Intervention Through Diagnostic and Imaging Services
At Mountain Vista Medical Center in Mesa, AZ, we pride ourselves on state-of-the-art technology, including fully digital imaging and recording systems. This allows the physicians to have immediate access to the images and test results for faster diagnoses. It also gives the staff the ability to consult with other specialists from their home, office, or any other location. Having digital records means the information pertaining to you is accessible by every attending physician and nurse. Instant and accurate access, without having to read difficult handwriting, improves the quality and speed at which we can appropriately treat the whole patient. Using advanced diagnostic and imaging services in our Heart Care Center means faster diagnoses, faster treatments, and more peace of mind for our patients. Learn more about the tests that may be available to you at Mountain Vista Medical Center in Mesa, AZ:
- Arterial Color Flow Doppler
- Cardiac Catheterization
- Chest and Abdominal X-Rays
- Echocardiography (Heart, Neck, Abdomen)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG / EKG)
- Intracardiac/Intravascular Ultrasound
- Lab-Blood Tests
- Nuclear Cardiology
- Pacemaker and Defibrillator Checkup
- Stress or Treadmill Testing
A non-invasive and painless procedure, the arterial color flow Doppler allows your doctor to see images of the arteries. Water-soluble gel is put onto a small handheld device called a transducer. The gel allows the sound waves from the transducer to penetrate the tissue and transmit a clear picture of specifically targeted arteries. The sound waves are then converted into color, which creates an image of the blood flow in the artery. These images are recorded digitally and provided to your physician. The Doppler test can be used to help diagnose and monitor blood clots, arteriosclerosis, heart valve disease and aneurysms – to name just a few conditions.
Arteriography, sometimes also referred to as angiography, is a test used to help diagnose diseases of the blood vessels and heart. A small thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the artery in question either through the groin, arm or neck. A contrast dye is injected, and a series of digital x-rays are taken as the dye moves through the artery. This sequence of images can allow a physician to see if the artery is narrowed due to plaque build-up. This test is done with the patient conscious. Medication may be given to assist in relaxation and numb the site of catheter insertion.
While an arteriogram is one use of cardiac catheterization (or cardiac cath), there are other diagnostic processes that use cardiac catheterization. Cardiac cath can also be done to check the pressure in any or all of the four chambers of the heart, take blood samples from the heart to measure oxygen saturation, look for issues in the heart valves, and take a microscopic tissue sample known as a biopsy. In addition to being a useful diagnostic procedure, inserting a cardiac catheter can also be used as a treatment for heart disease. Very few approved patients have a negative reaction to this safe procedure. Patients typically remain conscious during catheterization. However, you may be given a relaxation medication, and the insertion site will be numbed to help minimize pain and discomfort.
Chest x-rays are used to get a picture of the structure and condition of the organs in the area. These x-rays can assist in the diagnosis of heart failure, cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease and congenital heart defect – to name but a few. The chest and abdominal x-rays may show if there is fluid in or around the heart or lungs, if there is a mass or calcium deposit on either organ, as well as the shape and position of the heart. This may help in ensuring further treatments, such as pacemaker-placement, are accurately placed. X-rays are completely non-invasive. With our digital files, the radiologist will have access to the images quickly without the delay of film. Some patients are concerned because radiation is used to create these images. Rest assured the amount of radiation used to produce an x-ray is minimal and equal to the same amount you are naturally exposed to over a ten-day period. Still, if you are or think you may be pregnant, please let the staff know.
Echocardiography uses sound waves to produce a moving picture of your heart, blood vessels or other organs that may show your physician the goings-on of your cardio system. Unlike x-rays or arteriograms, an echocardiogram does not use radiation of any kind. Echocardiography helps show the size and shape of the heart, possible blood clots, issues with the aorta, or if parts of the heart muscle are not contracting well. There are three places in which echocardiography can be done, looking for different problems. Echocardiography of the heart uses a handheld transducer on the outside of the chest to view the heart. If the procedure is done on the abdomen, it is known as transthoracic echocardiography and evaluates the aorta root. Sometimes an external ultrasound is insufficient to get an accurate picture. In that situation, a transesophageal echocardiogram will be done. This is a procedure in which the back of the throat is numbed and a scope is guided down. On the end of the scope is the device that sends out the sound waves and produces a clear picture of the heart and aorta.
Every heartbeat begins with an electrical impulse from specialized cells in the upper right chamber of your heart. An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test that specifically studies the electrical system within the heart. Small electrode pads will be attached to your chest, arms and legs. A computer will read the electrical impulses from your heart and generate a line graph to provide a visual record of the heart’s electrical pattern. The physician can keep this digital file for future comparison as well as to note any abnormalities. Electrocardiograms are used to detect heart murmurs, heart attacks and poor blood flow. They can also provide information regarding the cause of cardiovascular symptoms, such as chest tightness and shortness of breath, as well as monitor the effectiveness of previous treatments like a pacemaker. This is a short and non-invasive procedure with minimal side effects or discomfort. It provides physicians with a great deal of diagnostic information to help formulate a treatment plan.
During catheterization, the technologist or physician may also do an intracardiac or intravascular ultrasound. This is done using a small transducer on the end of a thin tube that is threaded through a vein. When doing an intracardiac or intravascular ultrasound, sound waves are emitted; these waves capture data that is translated into a visual image, allowing the physician to see the condition of the blood vessels and any possible plaque build-up or blockages from the inside of the vein. This may also be used to determine the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering medications or to decide if more aggressive methods will be needed to treat a previously diagnosed condition. While this is an invasive procedure, it does not use radiation.
In diagnosing conditions and diseases of the cardiovascular system, it is often necessary to draw blood in a laboratory. While blood tests alone cannot usually provide a diagnosis, they do offer a lot of information that helps create a complete picture. Assisting in diagnosing or predicting coronary artery disease or the likelihood of a heart attack is extremely helpful in prescribing medication and establishing a course of action. Blood tests can show levels of cholesterol, enzymes, creatine kinase and other indicators of heart disease. A blood test is a common and routine test in which a small needle is inserted into your arm and a vial (or vials) of blood is drawn and sent for testing. Slight pain at the insertion site and mild bruising are the most common side effects.
Nuclear cardiology is a group of non-invasive technologies used in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. The most common test in this field is myocardial perfusion imaging. In an MPI, a patient is injected with an imaging agent into the blood stream both during rest and while the patient is exercising. A gamma camera then measures the imaging agent into and through the heart, both at rest and during exercise. This allows the physician to see a possible decrease in blood flow into the heart muscle, which could indicate a blockage and possibly even predict a heart attack. Other nuclear cardiology tests may study pumping function, determine which areas of the heart muscle are damaged.
Mountain Vista Medical Center offers check-ups on surgically implanted pacemakers and defibrillators. Your physician will provide you with a recommended pacemaker checkup schedule:
- Six weeks after the device is implanted, a follow-up visit is scheduled. This is critical, as adjustments may need to be made to the device to ensure it is functioning as needed and will last a long time. (Remember, the only way to replace a device is another surgery.) An echocardiogram may also be performed at this first post-operation check-up.
- Every 3 or 6 months (depending on your device and doctor’s recommendation) you will need to have the device checked. For some, this may be done from home using a telephone transmitter or a remote monitoring transmitter. For others, it may need to be done at the facility. Your doctor and staff will provide you with specific instructions for using the transmitters.
- Annual check-up. Every year around the anniversary of the implant surgery you will need to get a physical check-up including echocardiogram and a complete device check.
Not all diseases or defects of the heart can be seen when you are calm, sedentary, or at rest. But since life is not restful, we must also make sure the heart is healthy and functioning well when it is working hard. In order to determine if there are heart issues when a person’s heart is stressed, a doctor may order a stress test. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, as this will involve exercising (if you are able to do so). This is a non-invasive procedure in which electrodes are attached to the chest, arms, and legs, as well as a blood pressure cuff on the arm. You will then be asked to walk or run on a treadmill while your blood pressure is measured; the electrodes measure how fast and hard your heart is working during activity. If you are unable to physically exercise, the physician may choose to conduct a chemical stress test in which a chemical is injected to cause the same level of work in your heart as exercise would. This test can reveal shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat or other issues that may not appear during a sedentary examination. These symptoms and the amount of time of exercising prior to their onset may lead to diagnosing blockages, coronary artery disease or heart valve disease.
Schedule Your Appointment for Advanced Heart Care in Mesa, AZ
At Mountain Vista Medical Center, many of the latest advances in cardiology technology are used to diagnose heart conditions. Our technology, along with our expertise and compassion, makes us the perfect place in Mesa to seek answers for your heart care concerns. Contact us, or have your physician contact us about your diagnostic test needs at 480.358.6100.