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Cardiac Testing & Imaging

Cardiac Testing & Imaging is used to assess how well your heart is working or coping with stress. Your care is handled by a multi-disciplinary team of world class experts, covering the full spectrum of cardiac conditions.

Our team of Consultants offer a high degree of sub-specialisation expertise to treat the widest range of heart problems. This ensures patients receive the most up-to-date and widest range of diagnostic and therapeutic options, individually tailored to their specific needs.

Advanced Cardiac Imaging services are available through the expanded Mater Private Network, in addition to Cardiac Testing - five days a week and delivering faster and easier access to critical diagnostic testing in these 2 new locations:

  • Mater Private Day Hospital, Cherrywood NEW!
  • Mater Private Day Hospital, Northern Cross NEW!
  • Mater Private Hospital, Eccles Street
  • Easy access via simplified refferal pathway

Cardiac MRI – Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging

A Cardiac MRI is a specialised scan, creating detailed moving images of the heart.
Heart symptoms often occur when you are active e.g. walking, climbing stairs, or exercise.  The aim of this test is to see how well blood supplies the heart muscle when your heart is coping with extra exercise or ‘stress’.
The MRI scanner works using the combination of a powerful magnetic field forces and computing power. It doesn’t involve the use of radiation such as X-rays.

Preparing for my scan

Prior to arranging the MRI scan, because the scanner is a ‘magnet’, you will need to let us know if you have:

  • a pacemaker / defibrillator.
  • ever had any metal fragments in your eyes.
  • any implants or surgical clips in your body or head.
  • ever had an operation on your head, eyes, ears, heart or chest.
  • any concerns that you are pregnant.
  • had an operation in the last 6 weeks.
  • a cochlear implant.
  • asthma.
  • any kidney issues.
 
24 hours before your MRI - do not to drink or eat anything that contains caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant and may invalidate the rests of the tests. Caffeine is found primarily in tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and chocolate. There are also traces of caffeine in decaffeinated teas, green teas and coffees, so these must also be avoided. All chocolate products have caffeine, including ice cream and hot drinks. It is best to drink only water and fruit juices for these 24 hours. If you are in any doubt as to whether something contains caffeine, please do not consume it. Otherwise, you may eat normally.

During my scan

On arrival, you will change into a hospital gown and complete a safety questionnaire. The MRI scan will be explained, and any questions will be answered.

A plastic cannula (needle) will be insert into a vein in your arm, which will be used to give you the MRI contrast agent dye (a colourless liquid) and, in some cases, a heart stimulating medication during the scan. An ECG may also be carried out.

Once ready to proceed, you will then go into the scanner room and lie down on the MRI scanner table. During the examination, you heart will be monitored by ECG; your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels will also be measured.

During the scan, the table will be moved into the centre of the MRI. You will hear a rhythmic tapping sound which may become quite loud. This is normal and you will be given headphones to protect your ears from the noise.

The radiographer operating the scanner can see and speak to you at all times. You will be able to hear them over the speaker and they will let you know when you to hold your breath. A breath hold will be for up to about 20 seconds. You will be given a call button to alert the staff if you need to speak to them at any time to let them know how you are feeling or if you have a problem.

After my scan

Once the scan is complete, the cannula will be removed. You should have no aftereffects from this examination. You may eat and drink normally and you can return to regular activities.
Your MRI scan pictures will be interpreted by a specialist and the results will be sent to the doctor who referred you.

Are there any risks?

No short-term harmful effects have been found from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. The use of magnetic fields is not thought to be harmful; however, long term side effects are unknown.
If you have a cardiac pacemaker, metal fragments in your eyes or brain aneurysmal clips you may not be able to have a MRI because of the magnetic fields in use.

The heart stimulating drug used during the scan can occasionally cause electrical or rhythm problems and/or chest pain or tightness. You might also feel flushed, have a headache, or become short of breath, as you would if you were exercising. These effects usually last only a short time and our staff are fully trained to look after you if you feel these effects.

You will feel a pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein and will likely have a warm, flushed sensation during the injection of the contrast material. There is a small risk of bruising around the injection site in the arm.
There is a very small risk of allergy or side effects from the injection of the MRI contrast agent, but this is extremely rare. These are usually mild and may include a metallic taste, itchy skin, pain at the injection site and feeling lightheaded. Headache and chest pain are rare.

If you do experience any side effects, please inform the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) staff immediately.
 
 
A Cardiac MRI usually takes between 45 and 60 minutes. With preparation and changing afterwards you can expect to be in department from 1.5 to 2 hours.

CTCA / CTA - CT Coronary Angiogram

A CTCA is a scan of the heart creating multiple detailed images of the coronary arteries. It is a combination of CT scanning using X-ray and iodine-rich contrast material (dye). It is performed to identify narrow, blocked, enlarged or malformed arteries without the need for conventional invasive angiography.
 
Preparing for my scan

You do not need to fast however you should avoid drinking caffeine and smoking from midnight prior to the scan. If on medication, take your tablets as normal.
This scan should not be performed in pregnancy. Women of childbearing age should have this scan performed within 10 days of commencement of their menstrual cycle.

During my scan

On arrival at the radiology department, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and complete a safety questionnaire. Your scan will be explained, and any questions will be answered.

A plastic cannula (needle) will be inserted into a vein in your arm, which will be used to give you the CT contrast agent dye (a colourless liquid). An ECG may also be carried out.
You may require beta-blocker medication (tablet) to slow your heart rate before the scan. This will be given to you on the day.

Once ready to progress, you will go into the scanner room and lie down on the CT scanner table. During the examination, you heart will be monitored by ECG; your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels will also be measured.

During the scan, the scanner table will be moved into the CT scanner. There will be a loud rhythmic “whooshing” sound, which is normal. Any medication or dye needed will be given during the scan via the cannula.

After my scan

Your cannula will be removed. You should have no aftereffects from this examination. You may eat and drink normally after the examination and you can return to normal activities immediately after the scan.
The CTCA images are jointly read by a team of Radiology and Cardiology Consultants at the Mater Private Hospital. Your scan will be interpreted, and a complete report sent directly to your referring doctor.

Are there any risks?

As with any X-ray test the benefits of detection, diagnosis and treatment resulting from the examination should outweigh any potential risk. Of note, the amount of radiation received during coronary CT approximates routine body CT or conventional invasive coronary angiogram.

We are all exposed to natural background radiation every day. Medical x-ray radiation contributes a small additional dose on top of natural background radiation. At all times we endeavour to keep patient radiation dose as low as possible and to perform only tests that are medically justified.

You will feel a pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein and may feel a warm, flushed sensation during the injection of the contrast material. There is a small risk of bruising around the injection site.
Some patients report a metallic taste in their mouth that lasts a minute or two related to the dye injection. Others feel the need to urinate; however, it is only a sensation and subsides quickly.
 
 
The scanning time is approximately 15 seconds. In total you can expect to be department for approximately 1 hour.

An ECG records the rhythm and electrical activity of your heart. The recording is used to assess your heart rhythm, and blood flow to the heart muscle. 

What happens during my test?

You will be lying down for the test.

10  electrodes, similar to round discs, will be placed on your chest. These record your heart rhythm and rate.

It takes approximately 10-15 minutes to carry out the test.

An Echo, helps us to evaluate how well your heart is working. It is like an ultrasound scan and is used to assess any issues with the valves or chambers of your heart.

A Stress Test is used to check how well your heart works with increased activity or exercise, that puts your heart under pressure to work harder. The type of issues it looks out for are either arrhythmia’s or ischemia (coronary issues).

This test takes place on a treadmill to mimic the effect of activity or exercise.

The stress test may also be called an exercise stress test or a treadmill stress test.

What happens during my test?

You will be attached to an ECG and ask to walk on the treadmill.

Every 3mins, the treadmill will get hillier and faster, until you either reach a pre-determined heart rate or experience symptoms. The test can last up to 30-45 mins, unless stopped sooner.

Ideally you should have something light to eat beforehand.

There will be someone beside you at all times while you are on the threadmill.

A Blood Pressure monitor is used to look at your heart rate while going about your daily routine.  It also can help to check if medication is working as it should be.

What happens during my test?

The monitor takes about 20 minutes to put on and then, you will wear it at work, home or wherever else you normally would be, over a 24-hour period.

During the day a recording is taken every 20mins and at night (from 8pm-8am) every 60mins. 

When recording, the cuff inflates, slightly squeezing your arm - it is noticeable, but not uncomfortable.

You may also record details of your activity while monitoring is happening - it can provide useful information.

A Holter Monitor is a type of portable ECG which continuously monitors and records your heart's rhythm, or electrical activity.

A Holter Monitor may be requested if tests, such as an ECG, are not providing your Consultant with enough information regarding the electrical activity or rhythm of your heart.

What happens during my test?

When you come in for your appointment to set up the monitor, 3 electrodes will be placed on your chest and connected to a small monitor the size of a credit card.

The monitor and how it works will be explained to you, and you will be given a diary to record your activity in over the next 24 or 48 hours.

As you go about your daily routine, the monitor records your heart's rhythm.

The monitor takes about 20 mins to put on and you will wear it at work, home or wherever else you normally would be.


ADVANCE CARDIAC IMAGING EXPERTISE – NEW SERVICE

 

Our team of Cardiac Imaging Specialists is led by Dr. Roger Byrne, working alongside Dr. Pauline Diamond, Dr. Emily Ho and Dr. Helen Cooney.

  • Analysis by expert Cardiologists and Radiologists
  • Easy access via simplified referral pathway 
  • Highest quality, state-of-the-art technology

Access to the service is by referral only and you can send your referral directly from the link below.

Once received, the referral is triaged by our expert Consultants and patients contacted directly to book an appointment.


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