Cardiovascular Institute

Cardiac Imaging

At the Cardiovascular Institute, we have highly advanced imaging technology that gives us exceptional views of your heart. Our heart doctors use these thorough and detailed images to accurately uncover the cause of even the most complex heart conditions.

We have cardiac imaging locations throughout the Allegheny Health Network so that patients never have to travel far from their homes.  

Types of cardiac imaging:


Echocardiogram is a non-invasive procedure that uses sound waves to obtain real-time images of your heart as its functioning. These images provide doctors with information about the structure and functionality of your heart. We provide various types of echocardiogram, including transesophageal, 3-D, stress, and tissue Doppler imaging.

Echocardiogram is instrumental for:

  • Diagnosing heart failure and coronary artery disease
  • Determining how well the heart is pumping
  • Detecting heart valve problems, congenital heart disease, aorta tears, hypertension and strokes
  • Finding evidence of previous heart attacks

Testing is performed within 48 hours of referral and test results are available within 24 hours; emergency testing is available around the clock.

Cardiac MRI

Cardiac MRI is a painless test that uses no radiation, cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provides physicians with extremely detailed, 3-D still and moving pictures of your heart’s structure and functions. Viewing your heart in motion, allows our doctors to clearly see the chambers, valves and blood vessels and diagnose any potential medical conditions.

Cardiac MRI is useful in evaluating the following:

  • Left and right cardiac structure and function
  • How the heart has recovered after a heart attack
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Thoracic aortic disease, including dissections and aneurysms
  • Large artery and vein disorders
  • Pericardial disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Tumors around the heart or blood vessels
  • Valvular disorders

Your doctor may also order a cardiac MRI if an echocardiography is not technically feasible or when unsatisfactory echocardiographic images are produced. A cardiac MRI may also be requested if a doctor would like a second opinion about any cardiovascular disease or to gain a better understanding of your medical condition. Results from a cardiac MRI are reported to your referring physician within 24 hours of your test.

Cardiac PET

Cardiac PET is a painless test shows any areas of reduced blood flow from any of the arteries that feed your heart. Cardiac PET (positron emission tomography) is a highly advanced tool that rapidly and accurately provides doctors with an assessment of your heart function and potential problems. We complete PET scans in one hour and results are available the same day.

CT coronary angiogram

CT coronary angiogram is a CT (computerized tomography) test that uses X-ray imaging to view inside your heart’s blood vessels. It involves injecting a radioactive dye into the bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) line. The dye is visible on a special scanner machine and shows images of inside your heart’s blood vessels. The machine then takes several detailed pictures, called angiograms, of your blood vessels and provides doctors with evidence of heart conditions you may have.

Our state-of-the-art machine allows us to take heart images of patients with rapid or irregular heartbeat, or even arrhythmia, without the need for blood pressure-reducing medications. These medications had previously been required with other CT scanners in order to slow the patient’s heart rate for evaluation. This technology allows our doctors to better identify plaque deposits in the coronary arteries – an early indicator of heart disease. Coronary angiogram results are available for the physician’s immediate viewing.

Nuclear imaging

Nuclear imaging is a test that uses X-ray imaging to trace blood as it flows through the muscle or walls of your heart. It helps doctors to assess your heart function and determine whether more investigation is needed. Nuclear imaging involves injecting a radioactive dye into your bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) line. The dye is visible on a special scanner machine and shows images of your heart muscle. Inadequate blood flow to your heart displays on the image as a light spot because not as much of the dye is reaching there.


We offer these types of nuclear imaging:

SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) test produces sharp, accurate images of your heart in just two minutes. It involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material into your vein through an intravenous (IV) line. The dye is visible on a special monitor and a specialized camera produces images. The test can identify blocked arteries, diagnose or predict a heart attack, or assess you following surgery.

Myocardial viability testing helps doctors determine which treatment, such as angioplasty, bypass surgery, or transplant, is best for a heart failure patient.

Multiple gated acquisition testing assists a doctor with determining the heart's pumping capacity by measuring the percentage of blood that's pumped out of a filled ventricle with each heartbeat. This is known as the “ejection fraction,” and is one of the most significant predictors of a person’s risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

We can perform most of these nuclear imaging studies within 24 hours of a request, and in many cases, we offer same-day service. Reports are generated and disseminated within hours of test completion.  


 Allegheny  Health Network Cardiac Imaging in the News

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