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Cardiac Diagnostic Testing and Procedures - McLaren Port Huron

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Cardiac Diagnostic Testing and Procedures - McLaren Port Huron 1221 Pine Grove Avenue
Port Huron, MI 48060
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About Us

Nuclear Medicine

Accredited Computed Tomography - Nuclear Medicine

Nuclear medicine is the use of very small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and, sometimes, treat disease. Nuclear medicine can provide accurate images of specific areas of the body; valuable information about how your body is working; and therapy to fight some diseases. Nuclear medicine can detect a wide variety of conditions and illnesses, such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer and infection

Patients Can Expect

  • Minimal wait time
  • Acceptance of most medical insurance plans

What to Bring

  • Physician Order
  • Current medical insurance card
  • Drivers license or other government issued identification
  • Wear comfortable clothing. (Avoid metal straps, buttons, zippers).
  • You may be asked to change into a gown.
Click here for imaging locations.


(Echocardiography, Echo, Cardiac Ultrasound, Cardiac Ultrasonography, Cardiac Doppler, Transthoracic Echocardiogram, TTE)

patient having echocardiogram

Procedure Overview 

What is an echocardiogram? 

An echocardiogram is a noninvasive procedure used to assess the heart's function and structures. During the procedure, a transducer (like a microphone) sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed on the chest at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues, where the waves echo off of the heart structures. The transducer picks up the reflected waves and sends them to a computer. The computer interprets the echoes into an image of the heart walls and valves.

Other related procedures that may be used to assess the heart include resting or exercise electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), Holter monitor, signal-averaged ECG, cardiac catheterization, chest x-ray, computed tomography (CT scan) of the chest, electrophysiological studies, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart, myocardial perfusion scans, and radionuclide angiography.

Reasons for the Procedure 

An echocardiogram may be performed for further evaluation of signs or symptoms that may suggest:

  • Atherosclerosis - a gradual clogging of the arteries over many years by fatty materials and other substances in the blood stream
  • Cardiomyopathy - an enlargement of the heart due to thickening or weakening of the heart muscle
  • Congenital heart disease - defects in one or more heart structures that occur during formation of the fetus, such as a ventricular septal defect (hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart)
  • Congestive heart failure - a condition in which the heart muscle has become weakened to an extent that blood cannot be pumped efficiently, causing buildup (congestion) in the blood vessels and lungs, and edema (swelling) in the feet, ankles, and other parts of the body
  • Aneurysm - a dilation of a part of the heart muscle or the aorta (the large artery that carries oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body), which may cause weakness of the tissue at the site of the aneurysm
  • Valvular heart disease - malfunction of one or more of the heart valves that may cause an obstruction of the blood flow within the heart
  • Cardiac tumor - a tumor of the heart that may occur on the outside surface of the heart, within one or more chambers of the heart (intracavitary), or within the muscle tissue of the heart
  • Pericarditis - an inflammation or infection of the sac that surrounds the heart

There may be other reasons for your physician to recommend an echocardiogram.

Before the Procedure 

  • Your physician will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.
  • Generally, no prior preparation, such as fasting or sedation, is required.
  • The technologist will ask you a brief history including what medication you are taking
  • Notify your physician if you have a pacemaker.

During the Procedure 

An echocardiogram may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition.

Generally, an echocardiogram follows this process:

  1. You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the procedure. You may wear your glasses, dentures, or hearing aids if you use any of these.
  2. You will be asked to remove clothing and will be given a gown to wear.
  3. You will lie on a table or bed, positioned on your left side. A pillow or wedge may be placed behind your back for support.
  4. You will be connected to an ECG monitor that records the electrical activity of the heart and monitors the heart during the procedure using small, adhesive electrodes. The ECG tracings that record the electrical activity of the heart will be compared to the images displayed on the echocardiogram monitor.
  5. The room will be darkened so that the images on the echo monitor can be viewed by the technologist.
  6. The technologist will place warmed gel on your chest and then place the transducer probe on the gel. You will feel pressure as the technologist positions the transducer to get the desired image of your heart.
  7. During the test, the technologist will move the transducer probe around and apply varying amounts of pressure to obtain images of different locations and structures of your heart. The amount of pressure behind the probe should not be uncomfortable. Let the technologist know if it does make you uncomfortable.
  8. After the procedure has been completed, the technologist will wipe the gel from your chest and remove the ECG electrode pads. You may then put on your clothes.

After the Procedure 

You may resume your usual diet and activities unless your physician advises you differently.

Generally, there is no special type of care following an echocardiogram. However, your physician may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.

Cardiac Electrophysiology

Electrophysiology is the branch of cardiology that deals with the electrical impulses, or the rhythms of your heart. If you have an abnormal heart rhythm (an arrhythmia), your heart rate is abnormally fast, slow or even irregular. “Normal” heart rates differ dependent upon your age, activity level, medications you may be taking, as well as any preexisting heart conditions that you may have.

There are a variety of symptoms that may be caused by arrhythmias ranging from a simple awareness of your heart beating, to lightheadedness, blurred vision, or cardiac arrest. Other symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting. The symptoms that occur depend on your heart rate during the arrhythmia, your activity at the time of the arrhythmia, and the possibility of structural heart problems. Your physician will discuss your symptoms with you extensively. Testing and treatment will be determined based on your doctor’s assessment of your symptoms.

There are many types of arrhythmias and their significance and treatment depends on the exact type. To better understand the different types of arrhythmias, it would be helpful to first understand how the heart works and the heart's normal electrical system.

What is electrophysiology?

Electrophysiology is the study and management of the electrical system of the heart.  An electrophysiologist is a cardiologist who has received additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders (cardiac arrhythmia).

What is an arrhythmia?

It is an abnormal heart rhythm; your heart may be fast, slow, or irregular.  A “normal” heart rate varies between individuals.  It is important to discuss concerns about your heart rate with your doctor.

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

There are a variety of symptoms that may occur with arrhythmias.  This can include awareness in changes of heart rate, lightheadness, blurred vision and cardiac arrest.  Other symptoms may be present such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting.  

Continue with:

  • Cardiac Electrophysiologists
  • Treatments & Procedures

    Tests & Screenings

    How Can We Help You?

    June, 2018

    On Sunday, January 31, 2016, I set out in a local 5K with my husband and son, like I had many times before. My son took his own pace and, as always, my husband, Joe, was by my side. It was a cold day in Michigan, but the sun was out.

    Carol running race 2016
    Carol running the race in 2016 when she had a heart attack

    Slightly before halfway through the race, I told Joe I had a pain about the size of a 50-cent piece above my left breast. It came and went, but I knew it wasn’t a runner’s pain.

    He noted that I had on a lot of layers, suggested that I take one off, and said we should walk for a bit. We reached midway, which was an upward stretch, and when I started running the pain returned.

    “I think I’m having a heart attack,” I said.

    Joe, a fireman and EMT, said, “Carol, no, you’re not. Let’s just walk.”

    In Joe’s defense, I had no other symptoms. Nevertheless, he told me to sit and went to get the car to take me to the hospital.

    I saw our car heading my way when WHAM ... my arm! I looked down at my manicured nails and the pain was so bad I was waiting for them to blow off. Now, I knew I was having a heart attack. This couldn’t be happening. I was only 52, a non-smoking, non-drinking, Weight Watchers lifer girl running a 5K.

    I wasn’t prepared for this. I had things to do today and I had a family vacation planned in five weeks to the Florida Keys! I want to see my three sons get married. I want grandchildren. I can’t be having this.

    At the hospital, a nurse took me to an ER room. Here I am, alone in the ER and thinking I am going to die as my 20-year-old son watches through the window.

    An unhealthy legacy

    I watched my dad die at 42 of a heart attack when I was 11. My grandfather passed at 50, and my uncle at 54. Their legacy to me was high cholesterol: At age 23, my cholesterol was 511.

    Years later, after having two kids, my family doctor told me, “Carol you are going to have a heart attack if you don’t get this cholesterol under control.” I switched doctors because he made me mad.

    At the hospital, I had a cardiac catheterization and a stent placed in my left anterior descending artery—"the widow maker.”

    My new doctor, cardiologist Dr. Sivaji Gundlapalli, came in everyday even on his day off. He called me “his little runner.”

    “Carol, you need to do yoga and find a way to calm down and learn to breath and relax,” he told me.

    The nutritionist said to change to skim milk and to eat more chicken and fish. I already ate healthy. I have low blood pressure and weigh 132 at 5 feet tall. Apparently, that isn’t enough.

    No place like home

    The day finally arrived for me to go home. I remember I couldn’t wait to see my boys, my cats and my own bed.

    I listened to all the instructions the discharge nurse told me. I knew the names and dosage of all my new drugs, and what I took them for. I got in a wheelchair and headed out to the car.

    Then it hit me. I couldn’t do this. I live in a small farming community, not right across the street from the hospital like during the 5K. I wanted to stay.

    After a stop to get my meds and a blood pressure monitor, Joe pulled into our driveway. I couldn’t open the car door and for the first time in six days, he showed some emotion. He put his arm around me, kissed me and said, “Don’t ever do that again.”

    Now, the “what ifs” started. Every little thing made me believe it was happening again. What if I’m here and no one is around to know I need help? I’m supposed to walk a quarter mile a day. When I get to the corner, my heart is beating a little faster. What if it’s the beginning of another heart attack?

    Vacation is good medicine

    Carol and family on vacation
    Carol and her family on vacation after her heart attack

    I had to pull myself together. We were scheduled to go on vacation in four weeks and I wanted to be good to go. The “what ifs” hadn’t disappeared, but people helped ensure I never felt totally alone.

    I started cardiac rehab and slowly regained confidence in my ability to exercise. I started walking again, carrying my nitro tablet in my pocket, never far from my heart.

    The week before vacation, I had an echocardiogram and a nuclear stress test. Because of the quick action by my husband and the great care from McLaren Port Huron ER, the long-term damage to my heart is zero. Dr. Gundlapalli saved my life. I was good to go to the Keys.

    Before leaving for vacation, I knew the closest hospital in the Keys, packed my blood pressure machine, all my meds, and tried to tame the what-if beast. Just in case, I have a laminated list of meds in both my wallet and my husband’s.

    Once on vacation, something else became clear. In Florida, I could be the old me—the Carol who existed before the heart attack. It was the beginning of my journey back to health, physical and mental.

    Two weeks after returning from what was the best therapy of all, vacation, I returned to work. Never underestimate the power of returning to a predictable routine after a traumatic event.

    Carol running race after heart attack
    Carol participating in the same race two years later, as a heart attack survivor

    In January 2018, I ran the 5K that I wasn’t able to finish two years ago. The what ifs tried to work their way back in, but I wouldn’t let them stay. I finished the race and can say again “life is good.”

    Learn more about heart services at McLaren Port Huron.


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