8600 Old Georgetown Road | Bethesda, MD 20814
301-896-3100

Diagnostic Technology at the NIH Heart Center at Suburban Hospital

Angioplasty
Though Suburban Hospital has long been able to perform emergency angioplasty as part of the Johns Hopkins C-Port study, Suburban Hospital's three new cardiac catheterization laboratories — designed and certified by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to be the best in healthcare — will be the gateway to numerous elective therapies such as diagnostic coronary angiograms, angioplasty, and drug-eluting stents.

CT Technology
Suburban Hospital is one of the first facilities in the DC metro area to obtain the 64-slice GE LightSpeed Volume CT, a diagnostic tool that signals the beginning of a new era in imaging technology. Like all computed tomography (CT) systems, also known as "CAT scans," Suburban Hospital's new CT combines the power of x-ray and computer technology to create three-dimensional visualization of internal anatomy, aiding physicians in viewing abnormalities, diagnosing disease, and assessing the extent of traumatic injury.

Suburban Hospital's new technology features unprecedented speed and image quality, allowing clinicians to capture a whole organ, non-invasively, in one second, to scan the entire body in 10 seconds, and to produce revolutionary images of the heart and coronary arteries in fewer than five heartbeats!

According to Lara Eisenberg, MD, a radiologist with the Drs. Groover, Christie & Merritt (GCM) radiology practice and chair of Suburban Hospital's Department of Radiology, "This new technology will markedly improve every traditional imaging study that we do, while at the same time opening the door to new and advanced diagnostic procedure possibilities."

Perhaps the fastest growing application in CT is cardiac imaging. Though CT coronary angiography has been available since the late 1990s, the clinical practicality of scanning an organ in motion has remained a significant challenge. Now that the new technology can deliver a comprehensive view of the heart and surrounding vessels with heightened resolution within five seconds, CT coronary angiography shows great promise in being able to diagnose clinically significant coronary disease non-invasively. In addition, CT will likely be used in partnership with the NIH cardiac MRI research program to help determine the effectiveness of different imaging modalities for diagnosing life-threatening clinical conditions in chest pain patients who arrive in the Emergency Department.

MRI
In 1999, Suburban Hospital and the National Institutes of Health initiated the NIH-Suburban MRI Center, a Heart and Stroke Research and Care Program. The opening of the Center, located at Suburban Hospital, marked the beginning of a unique study to evaluate the use of sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in diagnosing heart attack, coronary artery disease and stroke in emergency room patients. At the time the MRI Center opened, Suburban Hospital was the only community hospital, and one of fewer than 50 facilities in the world, with this level of imaging technology.

Electrophysiology (EP) Study

An EP study is performed by an electrophysiologist – a cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm disorders – and can help confirm the type of rhythm problem you have.  It is a minimally invasive procedure that usually takes place under light sedation.  Electrode catheters introduced through a blood vessel are used to stimulate the heart with electrical impulses.  The electrical activity of your heart during the test is recorded and that is used to determine the best treatment options.

Other Cardiovascular Services
Complementing the exciting new modalities of the NIH Heart Center is Suburban Hospital's comprehensive range of existing diagnostic cardiology services. For example, diagnostic tests such as EKGs and stress echocardiograms (ultrasound) will continue to be performed in the Eugene B. Casey Diagnostic Cardiology Center. Suburban Hospital is one of only a few facilities in the Washington region to have access to such high-level technology that holds great promise in its ability to diagnose coronary disease non-invasively.

For more information or a referral to a cardiologist, please contact Suburban On-Call at 301-896-3939.