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What other imaging tests are used in heart failure?

Echocardiography and cardiac catheterization are among the most common imaging tests used in to diagnose and monitor heart failure. Other imaging tests may be used as well.

Chest x-ray. Signs of heart failure such as enlarged heart muscle or fluid buildup around the heart and in the lungs may show up on a chest x-ray. Chest x-rays can also help distinguish between lung disease and heart failure in people who are short of breath. Chest x-rays are noninvasive, painless, and safe. Newer, faster machines minimize your radiation exposure.

Radionuclide ventriculography . Also called multiple-gated cardiac bloodpool imaging, radionuclide ventriculography assesses the motion of the hearts pumping chambers. It accurately measures left ventricular ejection fraction.

For this test, a technician injects you with a harmless radioactive liquid. The radioactive particles attach to your red blood cells, making the cells show up under a special camera, which detects the radiation emitted by the particles. By counting the number of tagged cells that pass through the heart over the course of several beats, the camera creates a computer-generated image of blood flow through your heart and large blood vessels. This gives an indication of the volume of blood your heart is pumping out.

The procedure takes only about 30 minutes and is painless and easy to perform.