Cardiac Imaging

From routine diagnostic tests to some of the most advanced imaging modalities available, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Heart Institute offers a comprehensive cardiac imaging program.

Cardiac imaging is an essential tool, enabling cardiologists to assess a patient's heart for any structural abnormalities. Such information not only allows cardiac specialists to accurately diagnose underlying simple and complex congenital heart defects, it also helps them determine the best course of treatment for the patient.

Collaborating With Community Cardiologists

Through our affiliation with AG Mednet, which offers the world's largest HIPAA compliant medical imaging network, we can secure the electronic transfer of echocardiogram scans from thousands of locations around the world while providing the detailed reports necessary to meet the most stringent regulatory requirements. We currently receive studies from physicians from across Florida, the Caribbean and South America. 

Noninvasive Imaging

  • Transthoracic Echocardiography - Echocardiography is a noninvasive diagnostic procedure that creates images of a patient's heart with the help of ultrasound waves. This procedure plays a major role in identifying congenital heart problems in fetuses as well as in babies, children and adults and helps in the monitoring of rejection in post heart transplant patients.
  • Sedated Echocardiograms - Since a child must stay very still during a diagnostic test, we offer sedated echocardiograms for pediatric patients under the age of three. Sedation is administered about 30 minutes prior to the imaging test, following standard sedation protocols under supervision of a cardiac nurse. It allows the child to be asleep so that accurate images can be obtained.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive way to take images of a patient's body using a magnet, radio waves and a computer. The MRI machine does not touch the patient's body and does not use X-rays or radioactive radiation. A cardiovascular MRI is ordered if echocardiography cannot provide adequate diagnostic information. In addition, it is considered the reference standard for assessment of cardiac volumes and function and, as a result, is used in the follow up of patients after surgery. Many patients, particularly adults with congenital heart disease, are often referred to us for follow-up cardiac MRIs.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scans - Computed tomography is a noninvasive technique useful in the evaluation of extracardiac vascular structures such as veins, arteries, aorta and aortic arch. The CT scanner at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Heart Institute uses a very minimal 1-2 mSv of radiation (for comparison, a routine chest X-ray uses 0.2 mSv; a cardiac catheterization uses 5-7 mSv), to produce excellent diagnostic quality images extracardiac structures than to guide in the planning for surgical procedures.

Minimally Invasive Imaging

  • Intravascular Ultrasound - Performed along with cardiac catheterization to assess flow to the coronary arteries, this invasive procedure uses a miniature ultrasound crystal attached to the tip of a coronary catheter, which is inserted into an artery in the groin area and moved up to heart. Using high-frequency sound waves, it produces detailed images of the interior walls of the arteries.
  • Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE) - Transesophageal echocardiography is a semi-invasive diagnostic test that uses sound waves to create high-quality moving images of the heart and its blood vessels. It is performed by inserting an ultrasound probe in through the mouth, to the esophagus so the heart can be imaged from behind without the interference of the lungs. The echo images reveal the size of the heart, how well the heart chambers and valves are functioning, and allow physicians to pinpoint any problem areas within the heart muscle.
  • Intracardiac Echocardiography - Increasingly used as an alternative to transesophageal echocardiography, intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) is an emerging imaging technique that allows physicians to get a clearer image of the inside of the heart. In larger adolescent or adult patients, a small ultrasound probe is placed into a vein in the groin, then threaded into the right upper heart chamber (right atrium). Such probes are often used to close atrial septal defects (ASD), a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.