Advances in imaging technology are leading to incredible developments in the diagnosis of cardiac artery disease without anesthesia and in a non-invasive way. Here at Weill Cornell Medical College, physicians are using state-of-the-art CT and MRI technology.
Cardiac CT technology directly images coronary arteries and identifies arterial blockages that would otherwise only be diagnosed using invasive testing. In addition, cardiac CT imaging is being used to assess patients' future risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Cardiac CT scans use x-rays and a computer to create high quality images of the heart, its vessels, and other structures in the chest. This safe, painless test is useful for examining the anatomy of the coronary arteries, cardiac chambers, and blood vessels in the chest. The images produced by the CT scan can be used to detect blockages in the coronary arteries, blood clots in the heart's chambers, aortic aneurysms, and cardiac tumors.
Cardiac CT scans can also be used to examine the heart and its vessels for calcium deposits, called calcium scoring. Because calcium deposits occur at sites of atherosclerosis, their presence and their size are indicative of the risk of cardiovascular disease: the more extensive the deposit, the greater the risk.
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed still and moving images of the heart. This non-invasive, safe method scans the body to produce information on the anatomy of the heart and its vessels, as well as moving images of the heart as it is beating. This enables the physician to detect abnormalities in the heart's chambers, irregularities in the flow of blood through the heart, and abnormalities of the cardiovascular system, including cardiac tumors, disease of cardiac valves, cardiac hypertrophy (enlarged heart), and others. At Weill Cornell, we offer state-of-the-art cardiac MRI imaging that can reveal areas of heart tissue that have been damaged by myocardial infarction (heart attack) and regions that are not receiving an adequate blood supply.