Which Diagnostic Tests are Commonly Performed in the Evaluation Process?

To help us determine the severity of your heart disease, many diagnostic tests are performed in the evaluation phase. These tests are conducted in the Schweitzer Comprehensive Transplantation Clinic and typically take place over three consecutive days.
  • Blood and Urine Testing

    There will be many blood tests. One is performed to determine the presence of the HIV antibody; we will require your consent and results will remain confidential. You will be required to collect your urine for 24 hours prior to coming in for evaluation testing. Full instructions are provided in your evaluation information packet.

  • EKG and Chest X-Ray

    An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a method for recording the electrical activity of the heart and its effect on the function and efficiency of your heart. Electrodes placed across the chest convey impulses to a device that produces a graphic representation of your heart's activity. A standard chest X-ray will be performed to indicate the relative size and position of your heart and lungs.

Additional Diagnostic Tests

  • Cardiopulmonary Stress Test:

    By walking on a treadmill until a target heart rate is achieved, or until your heart disease forces you to stop, we are able to evaluate the extent of damage to your heart and measure its functional capacity. This test indicates how much oxygen is being delivered to your body's various organs by your circulatory system.

  • Echocardiogram:

    Using ultrasound, we can examine the size, shape and motion of the heart's valves and chambers. There is no pain or discomfort during this test.

  • MUGA Scan:

    Also known as Radionuclide Angiography, this test determines how effectively the heart functions either at rest or during exercise. It involves adding a tracing radioisotope to the bloodstream and scanning its flow with a gamma camera. An EKG is performed simultaneously. This test measures the efficiency of the heart muscle contractions and the size of the heart's chambers.

  • Heart Catheterization:

    To determine if there are any blockages in the arteries, contrast dye is injected through a thin catheter inserted into the neck or groin. Pressures in the heart's chambers are also measured to determine the resistance to blood flow. It is important to stop taking Coumadin® prior to this test, and to refrain from eating anything for six hours prior to testing. If you are taking insulin or an oral hyperglycemic you should confer with your Transplant Cardiologist prior to testing. Some patients require overnight admission to the hospital for this test. Your transplant cardiologist will advise if this will be necessary for you.

  • Carotid Doppler Studies:

    An ultrasound procedure, this test evaluates blood flow to the brain to determine if there are any arterial blockages.

  • Non-Invasive Flow Study:

    This test measures the pressure of blood flow through your lower extremities by applying blood pressure cuffs to each calf.

  • Abdominal Ultrasound:

    Sound waves are used to examine the state of your liver, gallbladder, kidneys and abdomen. While you may take any medications with sips of water, you should not eat anything for six hours prior to this exam. If you are diabetic, check with your cardiologist for special instructions.

  • Pulmonary Function Testing:

    By breathing into a tube connected to a monitor we can determine if you have any breathing problems not caused by your heart disease. Measuring your breathing indicates how well your lungs are functioning.

Together, these tests will help us understand the extent of your heart disease and any complicating conditions that may exist in other parts of your body. Sometimes we discover conditions that make transplantation too dangerous for you. These might be a systemic infection, high lung pressures, or a condition that makes it impossible for you to take immunosuppressants, or anti-rejection medications. While these tests are the most commonly prescribed in the transplant evaluation process, your Transplant Cardiologist may request others better suited to your particular condition.