Cardiac Imaging

If your doctor suspects you have heart disease or wants to see if your condition has gotten better or worse, you’ll probably need cardiac imaging.

Cardiac imaging includes various noninvasive procedures, such as echocardiogram, stress test, cardiac CT scan, and cardiac MRI. These tests take still or moving pictures of your heart. We may use them to:

  • Assess whether you’ll benefit from an interventional procedure such as an angioplasty
  • Check whether a recent treatment worked
  • Evaluate cardiac infiltrative diseases (conditions that cause abnormal proteins or other substances to build up inside the heart)
  • Evaluate how well your heart pumps blood
  • Find blood clots or plaque build-up inside a blood vessel
  • Identify problems with your heart’s structure, such as leaky valves or holes between the chambers
  • Look for tumors or clots in the heart
  • Pinpoint which areas of the heart muscle were damaged after a heart attack
  • See how well blood flows through the heart muscle or surrounding blood vessels

The University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center is home to the largest and most experienced cardiac imaging teams in the state. We also use the most advanced equipment and technology available. This means we can catch cardiovascular problems early, when they’re usually easier to treat.

Iowa’s leading cardiac imaging specialists

You can have confidence in our cardiac imaging team because:

  • We have the right tools for the job: If your doctor wants you to have a specific test, you’ll find it here. Our services range from traditional and transesophageal echocardiograms to cardiac CT scans and cardiac MRIs. We also offer nuclear heart scans, which use special cameras and a safe, radioactive material (tracer) to show blood flow into the heart muscle. These tests include cardiac PET and multigated acquisition (MUGA) scans.
  • We offer a higher level of testing: We’re often the provider of choice when patients need highly specialized imaging procedures that aren’t widely available. For example, we’re the only center in Iowa that offers cardiac MRI stress tests.

Why cardiac imaging expertise makes a difference

No matter how quickly cardiac imaging technologies evolve, our team stays up to date with the latest equipment and techniques. This is important because each cardiac imaging test offers unique advantages. Also, some procedures are better at detecting certain conditions than others.

The UI Heart and Vascular Center’s cardiac imaging specialists are skilled at weighing the benefits and risks of each test for each patient. Even though today’s procedures are safer than ever, there are still important factors to consider. These include:

  • Determining whether a test that exposes you to small amounts of radiation will work better than a test that does not use radiation
  • Knowing which test can pick up problems that may be blocked by bone, so you don’t have to undergo repeat tests
  • Understanding which test will capture the clearest pictures, despite your heart’s nonstop motion

We’ll work with your regular provider to determine which test is right for you, based on your symptoms, previous testing, and other factors.

What to expect

To have a cardiac imaging test, you’ll need a referral from your cardiologist or primary care provider.

Once your procedure is scheduled, you’ll receive instructions on how to prepare. For example:

  • We’ll let you know if it’s okay to eat or drink the day of your test.
  • We’ll tell you if you need to temporarily stop taking certain medications before your procedure.
  • We’ll give you advance notice if you’ll need to bring an adult companion to drive you home.

The images captured during your test will be read by a cardiologist with special training in cardiac imaging. The cardiologist will write a report summarizing the results and send it to the provider who ordered your procedure.

Your provider will help you understand what the test showed and, if necessary, discuss next steps including further testing or potential treatments.

Cardiac imaging tests and treatments

  • Cardiac imaging tests
  • Cardiac CT scan
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Cardiac PET scan
  • Carotid ultrasound
  • CT coronary angiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Intravascular ultrasound
  • Multigated acquisition scan (MUGA)
  • Nuclear stress test
  • Stress echocardiogram
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Cardiac imaging conditions diagnosed

Accredited for more than 20 years
Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) sealOur echocardiography program has been accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission since 2000. This designation proves we meet or exceed strict standards of care related to patient safety and quality.

Need help choosing a cardiac imaging specialist?

When you call 1-319-356-7102, we’ll help you find a provider who meets your needs.

Care Team