Diagnostic Tests and Procedures

Non-Imaging Tests

The following non-imaging diagnostic tests are able to assess body’s performance at rest, during or after different stages of activities. They can be applied to various organs, such as heart, lungs and among many others. These tests are designed to allow clinicians to determine conditions based on the different settings in which they occur.

Electrocardiogram:

An electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) measures the electrical activity of your heartbeat. It records this electrical activity as short, wavy lines that dip up and down on graph paper. The size and the shape of these dips can reveal a number of things about your heart. One of the most common uses for an EKG/ECG is to identify the presence of arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that are present when your heart’s electrical system has issues.

Aside from identifying arrhythmias, your doctor usually recommends an EKG to:

  • Observe how well your medications are working
  • Observe how well your implanted devices are working
  • Identify other heart-related problems such as coronary artery disease, heart damage caused by a previous heart attack and structural problems.

An EKG will usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. The EKG recording will only take a few seconds; however, preparation will add another 15-20 minutes. Check with your doctor for further details.

However, An EKG/ECG only records your heart’s electrical activity for the time being monitored. Therefore, identifying those heart problems that come and go may not be noticed. This will require longer monitoring. There are two options:

  • Holter Monitor: This battery-operated, portable device records your heart’s electrical activity continuously for 24 to 48 hours. During this time, it is important for the individual to keep a diary of daily activities and occurrence of symptoms. Check with your doctor for further details.
  • Event Monitor: Though similar to the holter monitor, this device only records at certain times for a few minutes at a time. The device can also be worn up to 30 days. Also many of these monitors will allow you to press a button to record your symptoms when they appear; while others will automatically sense the presence of heart arrhythmias and start recording. Check with your doctor for any further details.

Stress Tests:

Stress tests help your doctor find out how well your heart handles its workload. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more fuel and your heart has to pump more blood. The test can show if there’s a lack of blood supply through the arteries that go to the heart. Your doctor will recommend a stress test to find out:

  • The presence of an irregular heartbeat
  • If your symptoms are related to your heart
  • How hard you should exercise when starting an exercise program
  • How effective past and/or current treatments for heart disease are
  • If you need other potential tests to detect narrowed arteries

There are two types of stress testing: pharmacological and exercise.

  • A pharmacological stress test: During this test, you’ll be given a type of medicine, through an IV, which will mimic the same effects brought upon the heart by exercise. This test is particularly used for those individuals that are unable to exercise due to health condition
  • An exercise stress test: During this test, you will walk on a treadmill or pedal using a stationary bike, starting slowly. As the test progresses, the exercise gets more difficult. You will continue exercising until your heart rate has reached a set target or until you develop symptoms that don’t allow you to continue.

An exercise stress test will usually take place at the hospital. The exercise test by itself will only take 15 minutes; however, preparation will add another 30 to 45 minutes. Check with your doctor for further details.

Electrophysiology Study:

While electrocardiograms (EKG/ECG) are an important test of the heart’s electrical system, they provide only a brief snapshot of it. An electrophysiology (EP) study allows your doctor to intentionally provoke arrhythmia events and collect data about the flow of electricity during these events. As a result EP studies can diagnose the cause and precise location of the arrhythmia. An EP study can also be recommended for:

  • Individuals undergoing cardiac ablation and/or heart surgery
  • To predict risk of sudden cardiac death
  • To diagnose the effectiveness of certain medications
  • To assess the need for an implantable device (e.g. pacemaker or ICD).

An EP study will usually take place at the hospital. The procedure will take 1 to 4 hours. Check with your doctor for further details.

Electromyography:

Electromyography (EMG) evaluates the health condition of the muscles and nerve cells that control them. It does so by measuring muscle response or electrical activity in response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle. An EMG is usually recommended when someone is showing symptoms of a muscle or nerve disorder. Test results can help the doctor diagnose muscle and/or nerve disorders and disorders affecting the connection between nerves and muscles.

The EMG test will usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. The EMG test will usually last between 30-45 minutes, but preparation will add some time. Check with your doctor for further details.

Ankle Brachial Index Test:

The ankle-brachial (ABI) test measures blood circulation and blood pressure in arteries at different locations of your body. Most often it is done on the ankle. Once the results are available, they are compared to the blood pressure measured at your arm. Your doctor will usually recommend this test as a way to identify the presence of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

An ankle-brachial test will usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. The test itself will only take 5-10 minutes. Check with your doctor for further details.

Sleep study (Polysomnogram):

A sleep study is used to diagnose sleep disorders. It does so by monitoring your sleep stages and cycles to identify if or when your sleep patterns are disrupted and why. This test allows for recording of your brain waves, oxygen level in your blood, breathing and heart rates, as well as any leg and eye movement during sleep.

Sleep studies usually take place in an outpatient clinic (e.g. doctor’s office). Sleep studies usually take 8 to 10 hours to complete. Check with your doctor for further details.

Tilt-Table Test:

A tilt-table test is used to evaluate the cause of unexplained fainting (syncope). Your doctor may recommend a tilt table test if you've had repeated, unexplained episodes of fainting. It can also be used to see if fainting is due to abnormal control of heart rate or blood pressure.

Tilt tests usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office). The test itself can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Check with your doctor for further details.

Provocation Tests:

Provocation tests are designed to try to reproduce your symptoms. The tests may help your doctor determine the cause of your condition and help rule out other causes that may have similar symptoms. In these tests, your doctor may ask you to move your arms, neck or shoulders in various positions. After doing so, your doctor will assess your symptoms.

These tests usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. These tests usually take 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete. Check with your doctor for further details.

Pulmonary Function Test:

Pulmonary function tests show how well your lungs are working by measuring lung volume, capacity, rates of flow, and gas exchange. These tests are performed to

  • Diagnose a particular type of lung disease
  • Check lung function before surgery or other procedures in patients who have lung or heart problems, who are smokers, or who have other health conditions.
  • Identify the best approach to treat your certain lung disorder

These tests usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. These tests usually take 15 minutes to 30 minutes to complete. Check with your doctor for further details.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery:

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) uses many precisely focused radiation beams to treat tumors and other problems in the brain, neck and other parts of the body. Like other forms of radiation, SRS works by damaging the DNA of the targeted cells. These cells then lose the ability to reproduce, leading the tumor(s) to shrink. Please note that according to your condition, several treatments may be necessary.

SRS treatment will usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. One session of SRS treatment will usually take 1 to 4 hours depending on the size and the shape of the target. Check with your doctor for further details.

Saint Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
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Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
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Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900
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Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
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Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
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Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
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RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
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Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
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RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
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RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
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