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Cardiac Diagnostic Imaging


Over the last decade we have helped to create major advances in diagnostic imaging of the beating heart using non-invasive approaches. As a result, we are now able to detect heart disease at earlier stages, diagnose it with greater accuracy and more specifically guide a patient’s treatment. With recent advances in technology, it is now possible to image the heart with such great detail and speed that a cardiac diagnosis can be made in seconds without an invasive procedure.  The Cardiac Imaging Program at St. Francis Hospital is regarded as one of the best in the nation. Our superb staff of physicians, cardiac imaging technologists and nurses provide services at both St. Francis Hospital and at The DeMatteis Center, in Greenvale. We offer cardiac CT scanning, cardiac MRI scanning, three-dimensional and transesophageal echocardiography, cardiac PET/CT scanning and state-of-the-art nuclear imaging. All of the procedures are supervised and interpreted by expert board certified cardiologists who are recognized nationally and internationally as leaders in their particular imaging fields.  Our exceptionally skilled and caring staff will guide you through every aspect of your imaging test, from preparing for the day of the test to what you might expect during and following the test. We work in close conjunction with referring physicians to create a tailored plan of imaging that will deliver the most helpful results possible and provide these results to your physician on the same day in almost all instances.

- Jane Cao, M.D., Director of Cardiac Imaging

Conditions Diagnosed

  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Mitral Valve Disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Cardiac Amyloid
  • Cardiac Sarcoid
  • Cardiac Iron Overload
  • Cardiac Tumor
  • Disease of the Pericardium

Key Diagnostic Modalities

Cardiac MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a versatile, non-invasive technology, has long been used for the diagnosis of neurological, orthopedic, gastrointestinal, and vascular disorders. New MRI technology provides the speed and image resolution needed to image the beating heart, which creates unique image data not available with other technologies. Cardiac MRI provides high-resolution, high-definition images of the heart non-invasively and without using radiation. Heart chambers, heart muscle, wall motion, ejection fraction and blood flow can be illustrated with one-of-its-kind accuracy in these images. Cardiac MRI is used to diagnose a wide range of cardiovascular conditions, including coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects and other abnormalities of the heart muscle and pericardium. For closer look at Cardiac MRI at St. Francis Hospital, click here

Three-dimensional Echocardiography

By using three-dimensional echocardiography, which images the heart non-invasively with ultrasound, it is possible to evaluate the heart’s function more reliably than with a conventional ultrasound. It is especially useful in assessing patients with congestive heart failure. The technology creates a three-dimensional reconstruction of the heart which provides detail on the extent of a patient’s heart disease and helps physicians recommend the most effective treatment option.

Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE)

TEE is used to better visualize the heart when ordinary conventional cardiac ultrasound is not adequate. The test involves passing a special transducer into the patient’s esophagus, while the patient is under moderate sedation. Since the ultrasound waves do not have to pass across the chest wall as they would with traditional cardiac ultrasound, TEE allows a cardiologist to obtain clearer images for evaluating the heart’s structure and function. This test is often performed in preparation for mitral valve repairs, allowing a surgeon to assess the valve’s structure and the best approach to its repair. It is also useful before some heart rhythm treatments, catheter-based approaches to repairing congenital heart defects and in the operating room during surgery to repair or replace damaged heart valves.

Cardiac Nuclear Imaging

Nuclear imaging can be used to evaluate patients who are not candidates for the simple stress test, which involves exercise. Especially in cases where coronary artery disease is suspected, the addition of nuclear imaging increases the diagnostic accuracy of the stress test. A specialized type of nuclear imaging known as single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) involves the injection of nuclear isotopes and continuous imaging by a gamma camera that circles the patient’s body. There is a growing body of evidence on the benefits of using this approach to identify coronary artery disease in women (who generally experience a significant number of false positives with stress testing), as well as elderly patients. The information gathered from a nuclear imaging scan can help cardiologists determine which patients are candidates for coronary angiography, angioplasty and stenting, or coronary artery bypass surgery. 

MultiDetector Computed Tomography (MDCT)

Advanced CT scanning provides unprecedented image quality, especially for cardiovascular applications. It has the ability to provide three-dimensional, motion-free images of the beating heart and acquire images of the intracranial, pulmonary, abdominal and peripheral vessels in less than ten seconds. These images allow physicians to diagnose and treat disease more accurately than ever before. High-speed imaging capabilities provide greater patient comfort by minimizing the breath-hold time.

Cardiac PET/CT

Myocardial perfusion imaging using PET (positron emission tomography) technology is the most accurate method of diagnosing coronary artery disease and evaluating its extent and severity. In addition, PET metabolic imaging is the best established means of assessing heart muscle function and heart tissue viability after a cardiac event to determine whether coronary intervention will improve cardiac function. PET perfusion imaging provides superior resolution, which gives the ability to accurately measure coronary flow. This makes PET an ideal method to determine the functional significance of borderline coronary disease initially seen on invasive or CT angiography. PET imaging has a very low radiation exposure and, because of this, the studies are completed quickly, usually taking 30-45 minutes on average. St. Francis Hospital is one of only three hospitals in the Eastern part of the United States to offer this technology and the only hospital in the New York metropolitan area to provide this service to its patient population.

Contact St. Francis Cardiac Imaging

To schedule a cardiac non-invasive imaging test, with the exception of cardiac MRI, please call (516) 705-6627. To schedule a cardiac MRI appointment, call (516) 629-2028.


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