Overview of imaging
Imaging is a form of testing that uses medical technology such as X-rays, ultrasounds and magnetic resonance to create images of your body parts and internal organs. If your doctor thinks you may have a form of heart disease, imaging tests will help to diagnose your condition. Imaging can also be used to check how well you are recovering from heart surgery or a recent procedure.
Heart disease imaging tests
An echocardiogram, or “echo”, is an ultrasound of your heart. Sound waves from your heart are converted to detailed pictures of the chambers and structures in your heart. You might need an echo if you have symptoms related to heart failure, heart murmurs or have a genetic heart condition. Find out more about echocardiograms.
MRI (which stands for magnetic resonance imaging) is a scan that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to take detailed pictures of your heart and tissues. An MRI scan can detect heart abnormalities and determine if you have heart disease. It can also identify damage to your heart from a previous heart attack, diagnose problems with your heart, including tumours and birth defects. Find out more about cardiac MRI scans.
A chest X-ray is a test that produces black and white images of your body parts, including your heart, lungs, blood vessels, spine and chest bones, and air and fluid in or around your lungs. Chest X-rays are painless and non-invasive - meaning there’s nothing inserted into your body during the procedure. Find out more about chest X-rays.
CT coronary angiogram (CTCA)
A CTCA is a scan that records pictures of your heart. Before the pictures are taken, dye is injected into a vein (usually in your arm). The dye highlights any blockages in your coronary arteries, helping to diagnose coronary artery disease. Your doctor may recommend a CTCA if you have symptoms of coronary artery disease, which can include pain or discomfort in your arms, left shoulder, back, neck, jaw, or stomach, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, indigestion or heartburn, light-headedness or nausea. Find out more about CTCA scans.
A sestamibi scan measures the amount of blood being supplied to your heart. It’s done while you’re resting and after a stress test. Sestamibi scans can help to determine the cause of chest pain. They can also find out if any areas of your heart are damaged or not getting enough blood if you’ve recently had a heart attack. Find out more about sestamibi scans.