One of the primary technologies used to examine and assess the cardiovascular
system at the CVDC is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Along with MRI
we have advanced nuclear imaging capabilities and access to state-of-the-art
cardiac CT technology.
The use of MRI in cardiovascular medicine was once limited by the technical
difficulty of capturing a clear image of a beating heart. MRI technology
has advanced dramatically over the past few years, allowing safe, high-speed,
high-resolution imaging of the heart and vascular system.
The CVDC offers two distinct applications using MRI—Cardiac MRI used
to evaluate the heart muscle and valves, and MRA (Angiography) used to
study arteries and blood vessels, often an alternative to invasive angiography.
Neither exposes patients to radiation and, unlike many other non-invasive
cardiac imaging tests, MRI studies can often be done without contrast
agents or IVs.
Cardiac MRI studies are extremely effective in precisely evaluating the
existence and causes of heart attack, heart failure, congenital heart
disease or abnormalities, heart valve disease, and cardiac tumors and
Using the state-of-the-art MRI technology and unique sequences developed
by Toshiba Medical Systems, cardiologists at the CVDC can perform angiography
not only non-invasively, but often without contrast or IVs. These options
are safe and invaluable for some patients, especially those with kidney
disease, who often cannot safely tolerate many imaging tests.
With the advanced technology available at the CVDC, we can image vessels
in the neck, head, chest, pelvic area, abdomen, legs, hands and feet.
We can not only create static images similar to traditional angiography,
but also produce moving functional images of the blood vessels.
Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI), a nuclear imaging "stress test"
using MRI, is a non-invasive, proven procedure to test for critical coronary
artery disease. It helps us determine the degree and location of blocked
or slowed blood flow to the heart, the existence of scarred heart tissue
and the pumping function of the heart. MPI is used to determine the need
for invasive procedures, to avoid unwarranted hospital admissions or discharges
and to assess the long-term implications for each patient.
MPI is useful for patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease.
People who are at increased risk include those with diabetes, high blood
pressure or high cholesterol, those who smoke or have smoked, are obese,
physically inactive or have a family history of cardiovascular disease
and menopausal women.
Computed Tomography (CT)
Our future plans include expansion into state-of-the-art CT at the CVDC.
These services are currently available on the main campus of Salinas Valley
Memorial Healthcare System. The primary cardiac tests that we perform
utilizing CT include:
A calcium scoring CT scan identifies and "scores" calcium deposits
in the coronary arteries. It is an effective way of non-invasively detecting
heart disease, ideally before symptoms develop. The amount of coronary
calcium has been recognized as a powerful predictor of future heart attacks
and may be used to guide lifestyle changes and other options to reduce risk.
Coronary CT Angiography (Coronary CTA) is a non-invasive imaging test.
Using fast, multi-detector CT scanners, high-resolution, three-dimensional
pictures of the heart and arteries can be obtained to determine if plaque
has built up in the coronary arteries. Coronary CTA can, in some situations,
replace an invasive angiogram and often provides additional information.
For Coronary CTA, an iodine-containing contrast is used to enhance the
quality of the images and medications may be used to slow or stabilize
the heart rate to further improve image quality.