Diagnostic Testing

Cardiac Catheterization
Performed in an outpatient lab at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, this procedure involves the insertion of a catheter (thin plastic tube) through an artery or vein in the arm or leg into the chambers of the heart or coronary arteries. X-ray images are produced to examine blood flow to the heart and arteries to test how well the heart is pumping and determine the severity of a patient’s heart disease. With this information, a precise treatment program can be designed.

Sestamibi Stress Test
This diagnostic stress test evaluates the patient’s heart during actual physical or simulated exercise. Imaging of the heart is performed before and after exercise to determine the effect of the exercise on the heart.

Using ultrasound waves to create a two-dimensional view of the heart, this non-invasive diagnostic procedure evaluates various structures within the heart. A stress echocardiogram compares the heart’s function during exercise to its function during rest for greater precision in determining whether or not there are blockages in the arteries.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)
This simple diagnostic procedure evaluates the heart’s electrical activity to look for abnormalities in the muscle, valves or rhythms of the heart.

Treadmill EKG
More sensitive than a routine EKG, this procedure evaluates electrical activity during physical exercise and determines the presence and severity of blockages in the arteries. The procedure is used for initial diagnosis, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs.

Telephonic Pacemaker Check
For patients with pacemakers, this simple procedure allows them to send an EKG from home, by phone, to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center to evaluate their pacemaker’s performance.

Cardiac Event Monitor
Patients wear this device, which allows them to take and record an EKG during periods of dizziness, chest pain or other symptoms that happen intermittently. The device can be worn for long periods of time in an attempt to “capture” infrequent cardiac events.

Holter Monitor
A Holter Monitor is a device worn by the patient for 24 hours to record the heart’s electrical activity throughout a typical day, so any abnormalities in heart rhythm can be recorded and interpreted.

Chest X-Ray
This simple procedure allows physicians to assess many aspects of the heart’s structure – and to differentiate heart problems from lung problems.

Blood Samples
Analyzing blood samples provides valuable information regarding the cause and complications of cardiac conditions; the information also helps determine treatment options.

Prothrombin Times (“Pro” Times)
For patients whose condition is treated with anticoagulation medication (blood thinners), pro time tests are performed regularly to determine if the medication dosage needs to be adjusted to maintain proper blood coagulation levels.

Cardiac CT
Performed with CT imaging, with the injection of contrast dye through a simple IV, this non-invasive diagnostic test evaluates the structures of the heart, aorta and coronary arteries.


Our cardiologists use a wide range of treatment options to care for your heart – including medications and invasive and non-invasive procedures.

Medications are often the initial treatment option for patients who do not have a condition that immediately calls for more aggressive care. Our cardiologists keep up to date on the latest developments in drug therapy so we can offer new options for effective treatment of our patients.

Also known as PTCA (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty), this procedure is used to improve blood flow through blocked coronary arteries. It involves the insertion of a catheter into the artery. When the catheter reaches the area of blockage, a small balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to compress the blockage and open the artery.

Coronary Stenting
This procedure begins with angioplasty (inserting a catheter into the blocked area of an artery). A thin metal coil – the “coronary stent” – is then permanently placed in the blocked area to support the sides of the artery and keep it open. Stenting may prevent or delay the need for bypass surgery.

Lipid Tracking and Intervention Clinic
Through this diagnostic and treatment option, we are able to monitor and address abnormalities in cholesterol, which is fundamental for the prevention and control of heart disease.

Electrophysiology (EP) Services
Electricity, which normally flows through the heart in a regular pattern, is the basis for heart muscle contractions. Sometimes, the electrical flow is disturbed, creating irregular heart rhythms or arrhythmias. Our electrophysiology services for the treatment of irregular heart rhythms include:

Diagnostic EP Studies

In some cases, cardiac ablation is the most effective treatment. This procedure involves the insertion of a catheter into a specific area of the heart. A special machine sends energy through the catheter to “disconnect” the pathway in a small area of the heart muscle that is causing the abnormal heart rhythm.

Defibrillation Implant and Care
An implantable defibrillator is a small device that can be implanted in a patient’s chest. It is programmed to monitor and, when necessary, correct abnormal heart rhythms.

Syncope Workup
Syncope, or episodes of fainting, can occur due to non-cardiac or cardiac causes, including arrhythmias. A syncope workup helps determine if the patient’s fainting is being caused by abnormal heart rhythms.

A pacemaker is an electrical device that is surgically implanted. It senses when the patient’s heart rhythm is too slow and electrically stimulates the heart.

EECP Therapy
Cape Fear Cardiology now offers EECP (enhanced external counterpulsation device) therapy – a safe, non-invasive treatment for angina (chest pain) and heart failure. During treatment, patients lie on a comfortable table with large blood pressure-like cuffs wrapped around their calves, thighs and buttocks. These cuffs inflate and deflate at specific times, in sequence, between heartbeats. A continuous electrocardiogram (ECG) is used to set the timing so the cuffs inflate while the heart is at rest. The cuffs deflate at the end of that rest period, just before the next heart beat. EECP therapy works by increasing the blood and oxygen supply to the heart muscle and decreasing the amount of work the heart has to do to pump blood to the rest of the body. Treatments are usually given for an hour each day, five days a week, for a total of 35 hours.

Heart Surgery
While our cardiologists perform invasive procedures for diagnosis and treatment, we do not perform heart surgery. However, we do work with excellent cardiothoracic surgeons to whom we refer patients when necessary.