Cardiac Imaging

Cardiac imaging tests provide valuable information to your doctor about your heart. These tests can affect diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease, and, ultimately, your health outcomes.

UNC Medical Center’s heart and vascular experts use a wide variety of noninvasive and minimally invasive diagnostic procedures with the guidance of advanced technologies such as CT (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and ultrasound.

Advanced Technology

For your procedure, choose UNC Medical Center, one of the region’s leading academic medical centers for cardiac imaging, to be sure you benefit from the most advanced care and technology available.

Coordinated, Multidisciplinary Care

You’ll appreciate the collaboration between UNC Medical Center’s experienced radiology and cardiology specialists who work together to interpret tests, as well as accurately diagnose and effectively treat your heart disease. The multidisciplinary team will determine the right treatment with the best outcome for you.

What Is a Cardiac CT?

A noninvasive test, a cardiac CT scan uses a sophisticated scanner and computer to take clear, detailed pictures of your heart.

What Is a Cardiac MRI?

A cardiac MRI is a noninvasive test using magnets, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of your heart and the surrounding blood vessels. Cardiac MRI allows our specialists to see all four chambers of your heart from any point of view for an accurate assessment of your heart’s function. These pictures can help your doctor decide on the best treatment for your heart problem.

CT and MR Angiograms

CT angiogram (CTA) and MR angiogram (MRA) are noninvasive imaging tests for diagnosing blood clots, aneurysms and the narrowing of blood vessels in the chest, abdomen and legs. CTA provides a high-contrast picture of blood flow within the heart. MRA provides pictures of blood vessels inside the body.

Unlike traditional angiograms that use a catheter, CTA and MRA make use of an IV to inject a dye into your bloodstream; then, CT or MR scanners create the pictures. These tests are quick and safe, and create high-resolution images for accurate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.


An echocardiogram uses ultrasound to create a detailed image of the beating heart. Also known as an ECHO, the test can pinpoint structural defects in the heart or abnormalities in blood flow.

  • 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 device attached to a flexible tube (probe) that’s guided down your throat and into your esophagus to assess heart function and structures
  • Exercise stress echocardiogram – Requires 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 mimic the effect of physical activity and evaluate how your heart responds

Intracardiac Echocardiogram

An intracardiac echocardiogram (ICE) uses a tiny ultrasound device attached to the top of a catheter that takes pictures from inside your arteries. The test delivers a clear picture of your heart and valves to diagnose and treat structural heart disease. Cardiologists also use ICE as a guide during minimally invasive procedures inside the heart, such as stent placement, or for repairing an atrial septal defect (a hole in the heart.)

ICE makes heart-imaging procedures at UNC Medical Center easier on you by helping you experience less pain and using only local anesthetic at the site of insertion.

Intravascular Ultrasound

An intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) allows your doctor to view the lining inside the arteries by using a tiny ultrasound device attached to the top of a catheter. IVUS allows cardiologists to create pictures of plaque buildup in the artery wall to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease.

Learn more about nuclear cardiology imaging tests at UNC Medical Center.

Contact Us

Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 984-974-2900 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

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