Getting to the Heart of the Problem — Cardiac Diagnostic Tests

The first step toward optimum treatment of a heart problem is an accurate diagnosis. The Sam & Anne Kesner Heart Center at Methodist Dallas Medical Center offers a complete range of state-of-the-art cardiac diagnostic tests and procedures to identify issues and put patients back on the path to heart health.

Expert Heart Diagnosis through Echocardiography

Echocardiograms, often called cardiac echos, use ultrasound waves to create images of the heart. These images can provide information about the heart's structure and function and uncover many types of problems. An echo can be especially helpful in assessing heart valve diseases.

Methodist Dallas Medical Center recently added 3-D echocardiography to our cardiac diagnostic capabilities. It allows our doctors to see the heart live, in real time, and in much more detail than with traditional ultrasound.

Types of echocardiograms we offer include:

  • Stress echocardiograms—show the strength of the heart muscle by taking ultrasound images of the heart during rest and then immediately after the patient walks or jogs on a treadmill
  • Dobutamine stress echocardiograms—show the strength of the heart muscle using a combination of ultrasound imaging and a chemical stress test. Medicine is injected into a vein to simulate the effect of exercise on the heart, and ultrasound images are taken.
  • Transesophageal echocardiograms—use a special probe that is threaded down the throat and into the esophagus. This enables the technician and cardiologist to view cardiac structures next to the heart itself, allowing much more precise visualization of cardiac valve function and other structures of the heart.

Electrophysiology Testing for Arrhythmias

These tests evaluate the electrical activity of the heart and determine the area(s) of origination of electrical abnormalities (arrhythmias) within the heart.

Types of electrophysiology tests we offer include:

  • Tilt-table testing—helps find the root of fainting spells, which are often caused by heart arrhythmias. During a tilt-table test, blood pressure and heart rhythm are monitored continuously while a special bed is tilted at different angles.
  • Electrophysiology studies and cardiac mapping—EP studies determine the origination of electrical arrhythmias in the heart. Cardiac mapping is a much more sensitive and precise method using various catheters to stimulate and track electrical signals in the heart, helping to pinpoint the exact areas of abnormal heart tissue.

Methodist Dallas Medical Center can also perform 3-D cardiac mapping and navigation—the most sensitive tests available to determine areas of heart rhythm abnormality.

More Cardiac Diagnostic Tests We Offer

  • Electrocardiograph (ECG)—measures the heart’s electrical activity using electrodes placed on the chest
  • Holter monitoring—provides a continuous, 24-hour record of the heart’s rhythm during normal daily activities
  • Stress ECG—tracks heart activity while the patient walks or jogs on a treadmill, or heart activity may be stimulated with medication for patients who may have difficulty on the treadmill. Stress tests may detect heart problems that aren’t apparent when the heart is at rest.
  • Nuclear medicine scan stress test (also called myocardial perfusion scans)—use radioactive material injected into a vein, along with a special camera placed on the chest, to identify healthy and unhealthy heart muscle. The scan is done while the patient is resting and again after the patient walks or jogs on a treadmill or uses medicine to speed up the heart.
  • Diagnostic cardiac catheterization (cardiac cath)—helps determine the existence and/or severity of coronary artery disease. Small, flexible, sterile catheters are inserted into various blood vessels and structures of the heart, and with the help of contrast agents, doctors can identify any blockages (lesions) within the coronary arteries.

See a Cardiac Diagnostic Specialist

Find a heart physician at the Sam & Anne Kesner Heart Center—or call us at 214-947-2750 for more information about our comprehensive cardiac diagnostic tests and heart treatment options.

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your physician or other health care provider regarding any medical conditions or decisions about medical care.

Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System, or any of its affiliated hospitals.