Diagnosis & Screening

Advanced Diagnostic Tests & Techniques

At UNC Medical Center, you and your doctor will be able to find the diagnostic technology that works best for you because we offer a full spectrum of tools and techniques, including:

    • Ankle-brachial index test – Measures blood pressure at your ankle and in your arm to check for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of the legs
    • Cardiac biopsy – Uses a catheter to remove small samples of heart tissue so they can be analyzed; helps diagnose heart failure
    • Angiogram – Uses X-rays to view your blood vessels and identify any that are narrow, blocked, enlarged or malformed; also called an arteriogram (when viewing arteries) or venogram (when viewing veins)

    o Cardiac computed tomography (CT) angiogram

    o Magnetic resonance (MRI) angiogram

    • Advanced hemodynamic monitoring – Measures blood pressures and flow within the heart; our advanced technology allows us to better identify those who can be treated with a less-invasive stent placement instead of coronary bypass surgery

    • Nuclear imaging cardiology tests – Take pictures of your heart after a small amount of radioactive material, called tracers, are injected into your blood stream; used to see how well your heart pumps blood and how well blood flows

    o Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

    o Myocardial perfusion imaging (nuclear stress test)

    o PET rubidium study

    o Multiple gated acquisition (MUGA) scan

    • Duplex ultrasound – Uses two forms of ultrasound together to show how blood is flowing through your vessels and measures the speed of the flow of blood

    • Echocardiogram – Uses ultrasound to create a detailed image of the beating heart; can pinpoint structural defects or abnormalities in the way blood flows through the muscle

      • Contrast echocardiogram – Uses an injection of saline solution into your vein to better show how blood flows through the heart
      • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) – Uses a tiny ultrasound attached to a flexible tube (probe) that’s guided down your throat and into your esophagus
      • Intracardiac echocardiogram (ICE) – Uses a tiny ultrasound attached to the top of a catheter to take pictures from inside your arteries
      • Exercise stress echocardiogram – Asks you to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle during your test to see how your heart responds to activity
      • Dobutamine stress echocardiogram – Uses medication instead of exercise to make your heart beat faster
      • Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) – Allows your doctor to view the lining inside the arteries by using a tiny ultrasound attached to the top of a catheter
      • Vasodilator challenges – Help your doctor predict how you’ll respond to medications that dilate your arteries and veins; performed during cardiac catheterization

    Learn more about UNC Medical Center’s cardiac catheterization labs and imaging and radiology services.

    Get Screened to Find Vascular Disease Early

    Vascular disease is among the leading causes of death in the United States, but people with a vascular condition rarely show symptoms until a catastrophic event occurs, such as a stroke or aneurysm rupture.

    You may benefit from preventive screening if you’re 55 or older and have a cardiovascular risk factor, such as a history of hypertension, diabetes, smoking, hypercholesterolemia, or known cardiovascular disease, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. These screenings are usually done with noninvasive ultrasound technology.

    Free Screenings from Medicare

    You may be eligible for a free one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screening as part of your Welcome to Medicare physical. You must get a referral for the test from your doctor.

    Medicare Part B covers a variety of other preventive and screening services, including cardiovascular disease screenings—blood tests for cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels—every five years.

    Get an Individualized Treatment Plan

    Once you have your diagnosis, you’ll work with your team to create an effective treatment plan tailored to you. Your plan could include lifestyle changes, medications, interventional cardiology procedures, cardiac surgery or other measures.

    Contact Us

    Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 866-862-4327 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

    Open Access is a new physician referral service, created by the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, which coordinates all admissions and transfers through a single phone call and guarantees immediate acceptance for patients. Please contact us to learn more or call 866-862-4327.

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