A Better Way to Visualize Heart Disease

New non-invasive system views patient’s coronary arteries

New and non-invasive procedure called  HeartFlow, a 3-D test at Scripps Health for detecting coronary artery disease (CAD).

New non-invasive system views patient’s coronary arteries

Angiograms have been a staple cardiovascular procedure for decades. Using a catheter, cardiologists inject a contrast dye that makes coronary blood vessels show up better on X-rays. These images help them identify which arteries may be blocked, and where.

The procedure has helped diagnose countless patients, but it carries risks, and because nearly half of all angiograms don’t find anything wrong, doctors have long searched for a non-invasive option. 

HeartFlow FFRct Analysis may be that option. Using images from cardiac CT scans and fluid dynamic analyses, Scripps cardiologists use this new, non-invasive system to create a personalized 3-D map of each patient’s coronary arteries.

They see a precise representation of their patient’s anatomy, and the arteries are color coded to precisely locate each blockage. 

With this information, they can put together an appropriate treatment plan for each patient: surgery, a stent, medicine or relatively simple lifestyle changes.

“The new system provides additional information that might help us better determine the right approach for a patient,” says Jorge Gonzalez, MD, a Scripps Clinic cardiologist who specializes in cardiac CT and MRI.

Clinical trials have shown that the HeartFlow FFRct reduces the number of unnecessary angiograms by 83 percent and lowers the cost of care by around $4,000 per patient.

Most importantly, the HeartFlow FFRct is completely non-invasive. Cardiologists simply have patients undergo a routine CT scan, and advanced software does the rest. The physicians receive a clearer picture, and the patient has a safer procedure.

MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Trevor Hoffman is featured on the cover of the March issue of San Diego Health.

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.

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