Penn Heart and Vascular

Overview of the Advanced Cardiac Imaging Program

Better Imaging Technology, Expertise and Outcomes for Patients

Physicians at Penn Medicine rely on high resolution imaging technology and techniques to diagnose problems and provide the best medical care. High-quality images help physicians:

  • Diagnose problems by viewing heart and blood vessel structure, capacity and function noninvasively, at rest and, when necessary, during stress testing.
  • Determine the severity of damaged heart muscle to identify which patients can benefit from surgery, revascularization, or other interventions.
  • Provide guidance during catheter-based procedures.
  • Provide pre-operative and intra-operative images to plan and guide minimally invasive surgical procedures.
  • Evaluate a patient’s progress following treatment.

Newer Technology Enables More Accurate Diagnoses, Earlier Detection, A Better Patient Experience

The evolution of imaging technology has changed the way medical professionals understand and evaluate heart disease. Newer technologies allow specialists at Penn to:

  • Improve patient comfort and safety with scans that take less time.
  • Achieve dramatically improved image quality for greater detail, clarity and accuracy.
  • Use noninvasive testing to get information that, in the past, could only be obtained using invasive procedures.

Medical professionals at Penn are specially trained to use next generation devices to their best advantage, as well as the sophisticated computational tools for interpretation that go with them, including:

  • A virtual-reality system that allows staff to transform data into interactive models for more precise diagnosis and measurement of disease processes.
  • Digital picture archiving, communications and information management systems that speed the entire process so most patients can expect same-day results for a wide range of tests.

A "Best Test" Option for Every Patient

Penn Medicine’s full array of imaging options lets physicians select the best studies for each patient. These include:

  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and angiography (MRA). Penn’s newest MRI systems:
    • More easily accommodate large patients or patients uncomfortable in enclosed spaces.
    • Send more frequent signals during the scan to capture a complete image of a beating heart.
    • Use a more powerful magnet and faster imaging tools to capture more detailed images of the heart and its metabolism.
  • Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT) and angiography (CTA), including a dual x-ray source, multi-slice CT imaging that produces amazingly detailed, three-dimensional images of the heart and takes pictures twice as fast as older technology, essentially “freezing” the motion of the heart.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to show the chemical functioning of organs and tissues.
  • Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) to get a cross-sectional view of the walls of blood vessels from the inside, showing the physician where the normal artery wall ends and plaque begins.
  • Intravascular MRI (IVMRI) – Provides similar plaque localization to IVUS, but measures the amount and type of cholesterol in plaques to guide therapy.
  • Coronary calcium scoring with computed tomography (CT).

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