How will my doctor determine which treatment is right for me?

Your doctor will conduct several tests before establishing the right treatment option for you. Among the tests that he may conduct to you are:

  • Chest X-ray: Taking approximately 30 minutes, this test takes images of your internal chest organs and structures. An X-ray technician will take images of your chest by putting you between a metal plate and the X-ray machine. You will be expected to stand in various positions to provide images of your chest from different angles.
  • Transthoracic echochardiogram (TTE): Another test that may be performed on you is the transthoracic echocardiogram, or echo in short. Using soundwaves, a probe placed on your chest will capture 3D images of your heart. The procedure lasts between 30 and 90 minutes during which time you will be asked to lie on a table.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This diagnostic test will require you to lie down on a bed that slides into a large tube where magnetic and radio waves scan your body to produce images of your heart. It will not hurt, but you will be instructed to lie very still during the procedure which may take between 30 and 90 minutes.
  • Pulmonary function test (PFT): This is a set of non-invasive breathing tests to measure how well your lungs are functioning in moving air in and out of your lungs.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: In this procedure, a contrast dye will be injected into you through an IV. You will then have to lie down on a bed that will move through a doughnut-shaped scanner. This test, which takes up to 60 minutes, takes detailed pictures of your heart and blood vessels using X-rays.
  • Angiogram (cardiac cath): This imaging test is conducted to check how well blood is flowing through your arteries and veins. A catheter, which is a small tube, is inserted into a tiny incision made either in your groin or near your elbow, to deliver dye into your arteries. This dye will appear in the X-ray to show the blood flow. The procedure takes about 60 minutes to complete.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram: To produce detailed images of your heart, your doctor may prescribe this test which is conducted by inserting a probe down your throat (esophagus). This test uses a thin flexible tube which is maneuvered into the throat to take pictures of your heart using sound waves. To numb your throat and prevent gagging, a hospital technician will spray your throat with a special medicine. This entire procedure takes about 60 minutes.
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