The introduction of CT scan in the diagnostic modality of heart conditions is not an old concept but is a recent modality. Initially it was cardiac catheterization and angiography that dominated the heart diagnostics. These procedures although were very successful and accurate, still involved an element of invasive surgery in them. Patients were more anxious with these procedures. With the introduction of multidimensional CTs, there is new hope for a less invasive diagnostic procedure.
If contrast is not injected, the CT scan of the heart is completely non invasive in nature. CT imaging can diagnose the aneurysm formation in the aorta, and detect any possible diseases of the heart taking place, including congenital problems. With the electron beam CT, the diagnosis of calcium buildup with in the arteries can take place. The diagnosis is far more superior to other invasive procedures, as a three dimensional image is achieved, which helps to identify the exact sequence of events taking place in a patient.
While ECG and EKG were used to predict the changes taking place in the heart, this technology removes heart diagnosis from prediction to confirmation. Even the simpler of the CT scans can help create a very vivid image of the pathology taking place. The multi-slice CT is unique in that it is able to create a virtual 3 dimensional structure of the patient’s heart, enabling the physician to clearly see the problem areas. The procedure is not invasive, is less time consuming and is less expensive for the patient.
The surgical procedure is virtually eliminated in the cardiac diagnostics. It is here that the introduction of cardiac MRI must also be taken into consideration. MRI use in the conditions of heart began almost at the same time when CT scans were being used. MRI in many respects has preceded the use of CT scans in cardiac imaging. MRI works on the principals of radiofrequency and magnetic waves, which creates high quality pictures of motion. (History of Innovations, 2006)This immediately eliminates the need for any x-ray exposure.
The magnetic waves are able to identify early signs of diseases. The images can then be adjusted for static modes or for dynamic modes. MRI have been preferred for the imaging of the heart due to decreased x-ray exposure and increased area of visuography. Abnormalities in the cardiac movements are easily seen through this procedure, along with the patterns of blood flow in the heart and great vessels. Any areas that are receiving less blood supply in the heart can be also diagnosed, which can help in prevention of any disease.
Indications for the use of MRI in the heart include ischemic heart disease, thick wall of the myocardium, right ventricular abnormalities, pericardial disease, tumors and valvular diseases, and many more. (History of Innovations, 2006) INDICATIONS FOR THE USE OF CT SCAN OF HEART CT imaging for heart is currently being used for a variety of purposes. These can be classified into CT imaging for calcium scoring, cardiac anatomy assessment, coronary artery evaluation, functional cardiac assessment and cardiac perfusion.
With the wide availability of the procedure in many hospitals, the CT scan of the heart holds much potential. One of the most exciting applications of the CT heart is in the emergency departments, where CT scans can save considerable time and help in rapid diagnosis of the condition of the patient. CT heart is an ideal diagnostic for patients arriving with chest pain, for placing biventricular pacemaker leads and for percutaneous coronary interventions for people having chronic total vascular occlusions.
It is also very helpful in the new arrived cases of cardiomyopathy and in discrimination of ischemic from non ischemic causes of the heart pathology. The correct identification of plaques within the patients can also take place in short time through this procedure. The reason for the increase use and application of CT heart are because it is a safe and reliable procedure and is highly accurate with no invasive nature. It is an ideal tool for correctly identifying heavy calcifications in vessels that are 1. 5 mm or more in diameter. (Escolar et al, 2006)
With the ease of handling and the short duration of time that is needed for the procedure, many hospitals in the United States are switching to CT scanning of the heart. The costs of this intervention are far less than those for cardiac angiographies. With over 40% of the American population at risk of cardiac diseases, earlier intervention, diagnosis and screening can result in significant drop of mortality and morbidity rates. Among such interventions is the introduction of screening programs that aim to encourage people who are motivated and to increase awareness among the public.