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Diagnostics & Testing

Diagnostics & Testing

The Vascular Lab at Waukesha Heart Institute is a dedicated outpatient testing facility providing high quality peripheral vascular diagnostic ultrasound testing. Peripheral vascular disease severity is a powerful predictor of quality of life and life expectancy. Testing is performed by physicians trained in vascular ultrasound interpretation.

Diagnostic screenings & image tests are your first step on the road to better health. If not treated early, circulation problems can lead to serious health issues.

The Waukesha Heart Institute has the latest tools at our disposal to help uncover the cause or the extent of heart and vascular problems. We have access to a number of non-invasive tests that allow us to diagnosis heart and vascular disease so we can prescribe the best treatment plan for you.

We provide a broad range of low-risk, non-invasive tests, including:

Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart, which are more detailed than those of a standard x-ray. This is a very common test that shows how your heart is beating and pumping blood. The images from this test will be used by your doctor to identify abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves.

Stress Echocardiography: A stress echocardiography is a test that uses ultrasound imaging to show how well your heart muscle is working to pump blood to your body. It is performed to see whether your heart muscle is getting enough blood flow and oxygen when it is working hard (under stress).

Most people will walk on a treadmill. You will be asked to walk faster and on an incline for around 5 to 15 minutes. If you are not physically able to exercise, you will be given a medicine to make your heart beat faster and harder, which simulates exercise. The images taken during this test will show whether any parts of the heart muscle do not work as well when your heart rate increases.

Nuclear Stress Test: During this test you will be given a saline based solution with a small radioactive tracer. The IV injection will circulate for 20-30 minutes; we’ll take a scan to form a baseline. We will then connect you to an EKG and you’ll be asked to walk on a treadmill. We follow Bruce Protocol, which means every 3 minutes the speed and incline on the treadmill will increase.

Once you get to 85% of your target heart rate you will be given another injection of tracer and another scan will be taken. If you are not physically able to exercise, you will be given a medicine to make your heart beat faster and harder, which simulates exercise. This test has 95% accuracy in finding blockages in the arteries.

The results are read by our cardiologists, board certified in Nuclear Cardiology. The Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) has granted us accreditation in Nuclear Cardiology.

Exercise Stress Test:  You will be connected to an EKG and you’ll be asked to walk on a treadmill. We take a scan of your heart at rest to form a baseline. We follow Bruce Protocol, which means every 3 minutes the speed and incline on the treadmill will increase. Once you get to 85% of your target heart rate another scan will be taken.

The Nuclear Stress Test includes the Exercise Stress Test, but it can also be performed separately without the saline solution and small radioactive tracer.

Carotid Ultrasound: The Carotid Ultrasound is a safe, painless procedure that uses sound waves to examine the structure and function of the carotid arteries in your neck. These two arteries, located on each side of your neck, deliver blood from your heart to your brain.

The test is painless and doesn’t take more than 30 minutes. Gel will be placed on your neck, and a hand-held device known as a transducer will be moved over different spots on the neck where the carotid arteries are located. The gel helps the ultrasound waves reach the arteries.

Carotid Ultrasound is used to test for blocked or narrowed arteries due to plaque buildup, which can indicate an increased risk of stroke. The results of this test can help your doctor determine what kind of treatment you may need to lower your risk of stroke.

Arterial Ultrasound or Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI): This test measures blood pressure at the ankle and in the arm. A large difference between the two can signal the presence of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which the arteries in your legs or arms are narrowed or blocked. People with peripheral artery disease are at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, poor circulation, and leg pain.

Leg Dopplers without Exercise: Doppler ultrasound is a painless way to detect blood flowing through the arteries and veins. This test can detect abnormalities such as, blockages in the arteries, blood clot in the arteries or veins, narrowing or widening of an artery, or venous occlusion (closing of the vein). By taking accurate blood pressure measurements at different locations along your legs our doctors can determine if you have arterial narrowing, and if so, where.

Leg Dopplers with Exercise: People who have leg pain while exercising may need this to take the Leg Doppler test twice; once without exercise and then again after walking on a treadmill for a short while. Our doctors will be able to compare results of the test with and without exercise to see if there are differences, and where they are.

Upper Arm Dopplers: Doppler ultrasound is a painless way to detect blood flowing through a small artery. It can detect abnormalities such as, blockages in the arteries, blood clot in the arteries or veins, narrowing or widening of an artery, or venous occlusion (closing of the vein).

Upper Arm Venous to rule out Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): An ultrasound test that looks at the veins in the upper arm are used to find symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in a deep vein which would otherwise be difficult to identify. With the increased use of central venous catheters for chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, dialysis, and parenteral nutrition, deep vein thrombosis is more common today in the upper arm than it had been in the past.

Venous Ultrasound to rule out Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): An ultrasound test that looks at the veins to find symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in a calf or thigh muscle. The ultrasound can detect DVT which would otherwise be difficult to identify. DVT can partly or completely block blood flow, causing chronic pain and swelling.

A blood clot is a serious problem. It can break free and travel through your blood to major organs, such as your lungs or heart. If it does, it can cause serious damage and even death within hours.

Abdominal Ultrasound: The Abdominal Ultrasound produces a picture of the organs and other structures in the upper abdomen. It can be used to screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is a weakened, bulging spot in your abdominal aorta. The abdominal aorta is the artery that runs through the middle of your abdomen and supplies blood to the lower half of your body. It can also be used to check for other diseases that affect your gallbladder, kidneys, liver, spleen, and pancreas.

Vein Mapping: We use ultrasound to “map” out the veins in your legs. This “map” will show where trouble spots or blockages appear. This will give the doctor the details to prescribe a safe and effective treatment.