Cardiac Imaging

Cardiac Imaging

Cardiac Imaging at UMass Memorial Medical Center performs imaging studies of the heart and vascular (blood vessel) system using CT (computed tomography) scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). These exams help your doctor decide the best way to treat certain heart problems.

UMass Memorial is the only hospital in Central Massachusetts to offer cardiac MRI. Plus, our cardiac CT machine allows us to scan faster and at a radiation dose that’s 50 percent lower than the machines used at most other hospitals.

Equally important, our cardiac imaging radiologist is fellowship trained, which means that he or she has extra training in this field, and works in a collaborative fashion with colleagues from cardiology and other specialties. No other hospital in Central Massachusetts offers this level of expertise.

Cardiac CT at UMass Memorial

Cardiac CT is a painless test that uses an X-ray machine to take clear, detailed pictures of your heart. It is used to help detect or evaluate:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) in low- to medium-risk individuals
  • Calcium buildup in the walls of the coronary arteries
  • Aortic aneurysm (a bulge in the aorta wall) or aortic dissection (a split in layers of the aorta wall)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in a lung artery)
  • Pulmonary vein problems
  • Problems with heart function and heart valves
  • Pericardial disease (disease in the sac around the heart)
  • Results of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) to see whether the grafted arteries remain open after surgery

Cardiac MRI at UMass Memorial

Cardiac MRI uses radio waves, magnets and a computer to create both still and moving pictures of your heart and major blood vessels. It allows doctors to get pictures of the beating heart and look at its structure and function, and is used to diagnose and assess:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Damage caused by a heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart valve problems
  • Congenital heart defects (heart defects present at birth)
  • Pericarditis (a condition in which the membrane, or sac, around your heart is inflamed)
  • Cardiac tumors

Coronary Calcium Scoring at UMass Memorial

Cardiac CT is used to perform a test called a coronary calcium scan. This test looks for tiny deposits of calcium in the walls of the coronary (heart) arteries called calcifications.

Calcifications are an early sign of CAD, in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. Plaque can narrow your arteries and increase your heart attack risk.

The result of this test is called a coronary calcium score, and it can predict your risk of having a heart attack.

  • Coronary calcium screening scans are available at UMass Memorial without a doctor’s referral.
  • You may wish to consider a coronary calcium scan if you have several risk factors for heart disease but no symptoms.