Diagnostic Testing

on March 4, 2013

If you are identified as at risk or already have cardiovascular disease, your physician may order diagnostic testing to better identify the problem.  This may be directed by your primary care physician, or your cardiologist. 

At Baton Rouge General, we are equipped to handle a wide variety of diagnostic services.  Our Imaging Center is staffed by Board Certified physicians specializing in Diagnostic Radiology and is accessible on a 24-hour basis. 

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): An electrocardiogram is a painless test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. During the test, you will be asked to lie down on a table, where small metal discs (electrodes) will be placed on your arms, legs and chest. These are hooked to a machine that traces your heart activity onto paper. The paper will then display a graph of your heart's electrical activity. A small amount of alcohol or paste may be used to improve the conduction of the electrical impulses. The electrode paste doesn't stain and is wiped off when the test is over.
  • Ambulatory Electrocardiography: Similar to an EKG, ambulatory electrocardiography is a painless test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart.  In order to get a more thorough picture of your heart's regular activity, the ambulatory EKG allows you to wear the equipment throughout the day's activities.
  • Chest X-ray: Chest X-rays are usually done to measure the size of the heart and to determine if there is any fluid accumulation.  X-rays are quick, easy and painless.
  • Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram is generally used to determine the overall health of your heart by assessing the heart's size, structure and motion.  Echocardiograms produce images through a small device that is placed on your chest, which sends ultrasound waves through your body.  The test itself is painless and simple.
  • Computer Imaging: Computer imaging, also known as tomography, refers to several diagnostic imaging tests that use computer-aided techniques to gather images of the heart.  Computer imaging is most often used to diagnose aortic disease, cardiac masses and pericardial disease.
  • Exercise Stress Test: During an exercise stress test, a monitor with electrodes is attached to your skin on the chest area to record your heart function while you walk in place on a treadmill. Many aspects of your heart function can be checked, including heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, ECG (EKG) and how tired you become when exercising. Stress tests help diagnose coronary artery disease, possible causes of chest pain and the appropriate level of difficulty at which you should be exercising.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: One test your physician may order is cardiac catheterization.  Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that takes about two to three hours, and is one of the most useful and accurate tools when it comes to diagnosing and planning a course of treatment for cardiovascular problems.  During the test, your doctor will insert a small tube into an artery in your arm or leg which will deliver X-ray dye that will show up in later images.  Because you will be given sedatives during the procedure, you should arrange for someone to drive you home afterward.

For more information about diagnostic testing for cardiovascular disease, e-mail heart@brgeneral.org, or call (225) 763-4455.