Diagnostic Services for Coronary Artery Disease
The diagnosis of coronary artery disease involves many factors. Symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath are indicators of the disease, but can sometimes be attributed to other, unrelated problems. Some people may experience no symptoms at all.
Because coronary artery disease varies from person to person, our cardiologists perform thorough examinations and order tests to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the extent of disease.
At the University of Chicago Medicine, our cardiologists can choose from several types of tests to determine if a person has coronary artery disease. These tests include the following, and more:
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
ECGs are painless tests that record the electrical activity of the heart. They can also reveal damage to heart tissue caused by a heart attack. We offer all types of ECGs, including 24-hour Holter monitoring, which involves wearing a portable heart monitor to assess heart function throughout the day.
Echocardiograms are painless tests that use sound waves to create a picture of the heart. University of Chicago cardiologists can perform three-dimensional echocardiography, an advanced imaging technique. »Learn more about echocardiography
Stress tests are performed to show how your heart reacts to exertion. These tests are often done while you are on a treadmill or exercise bike. People who cannot exercise may receive a nonexercise stress test, which uses a medication that helps mimic the effects of exercise. Stress tests are performed with or without ECGs or noninvasive imaging methods such as echocardiography or nuclear imaging tests.
Nuclear Imaging Tests
Nuclear tests involve the use of a small amount of a substance called a "tracer" that is injected into a vein. A special camera detects the tracer to create images of the heart that help physicians determine damage to the heart's muscle or decreased blood supply to a portion of the heart. »Learn more about nuclear cardiology
Cardiac Computed Tomography (Cardiac CT)
The University of Chicago Medicine is home to Chicago's first 256-slice CT scanner, a powerful machine that can provide incredibly clear, cross-sectional images of the heart and its coronary arteries. These noninvasive tests help doctors diagnose disease, and may reduce the need for more invasive tests. »Learn more about 256-slice CT
Angiograms are tests that involve the use of thin tubes (catheters) to inject a safe dye into the heart and blood vessels supplying the heart. This dye can be seen with an x-ray. The angiogram helps physicians assess the pumping function of the heart and the blood supply to it. During this procedure, physicians often insert special wires to assess blood flow within the heart.
Like angiography, intravascular ultrasound is a test performed with the use of a catheter. This procedure uses a specially equipped catheter that emits sound waves to create a picture of the inside of the artery. This advanced test helps physicians assess the structure of the arteries and that of the blockage inside it. Intravascular ultrasound is not widely available at most hospitals.