turn around time for results. Our
commitment to provide quality-medical practice, imaging and laboratory services
to the medical community of this region is as strong today as it was when we
first opened our doors more than twenty years ago. As such, we emphasize a rapid
turn-around time that has results back in our office within 48 hours, and
same-day callbacks for critical results.
If you would like to request a copy of a laboratory, ultrasound, nuclear
medicine, or nerve conduction test result for yourself, call our main office at
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Frequently Asked Questions About Outpatient Diagnostic Testing
Payment and Insurance Information
Can Pittsburgh Cardiovascular Institute tell me how much I can expect to pay
for my tests?
The price you pay for tests performed by Pittsburgh Cardiovascular Institute
may be dependent on several variables, such as: 1) your insurance plan coverage
of diagnostic tests; and 2) your age. If you have already received a bill from
us and have a question, please contact our office at (412) 373-7125 ext. 4, or
contact our billing manager.
Preparing for a laboratory test and/or visiting a Patient Walk-In Laboratory
Do I need to make an appointment to have my blood drawn at the Monroeville
Patient Service Center?
No. Appointments are not necessary. In order to expedite your visit, please
have available your insurance card, a copy of identification and a prescription
or completed test requisition form from your healthcare provider.
Do I need to fast before having my specimen collected at a Patient Service
Some blood tests do require fasting prior to having your blood drawn. Please
contact your healthcare provider to determine his/her requirements for your
Preparing for a sonography test
What should I do to prepare for my sonography test?
Certain sonography tests require fasting. If you are having an abdominal or
abdominal aorta ultrasound performed, you should make sure not to eat 12 hours
prior to the study. If you are having a pelvis or prostate ultrasound performed,
you should drink three (3), twelve (12) ounce glasses of water 1 and 1/2 hours
prior to the exam. Patients are asked to hold their urine until after the
examination is complete.
Preparing for a nuclear medicine test
What does the nuclear stress test involve?
The nuclear imaging stress test involves an injection of a small amount of
radioactive material, which circulates in the bloodstream and shows if your
heart muscle is receiving adequate blood supply under stress and/or rest
How safe is the test?
Nuclear Stress Tests may have some risks, and you should consult with your
physician regarding the risks and benefits of this procedure. Pittsburgh
Cardiovascular Institute has a certified physician providing personal
supervision at all times we perform this procedure. The radioactive materials
injected have been shown to be safe, with a low incidence of adverse reactions.
This test and these materials are used routinely worldwide, under physician
supervision, for nuclear imaging. The radioactive are not "dyes," and there
usually are no side effects from their injection.
How is the test performed?
The test usually consists of two parts, after exercise and under resting
conditions. The radioactive material will be injected during peak exercise and
once again while you are at rest.
As in a regular stress test, ECG electrodes will be attached to your chest.
This will allow your physician to monitor your heart rate before, during, and
after exercise. A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to monitor your
blood pressure before, during and after exercise. Additionally, an intravenous
(I.V.) line will be placed in your hand or arm vein to allow for ease of the
injection. The I.V. will be removed when the exam is completed.
The exercise part of the exam is usually done with a stationary bike or a
treadmill, very similar to the equipment you would use at a health club.
Exercising will begin slowly, and approximately every three (3) minutes, the
pace will gradually increase. As you exercise, your heart rate and blood
pressure will change. This is normal, and remember, you are being closely
monitored throughout the exam. At your peak exercise, the radioactive material
will be injected into the I.V., and you will be asked to continue exercising for
an additional one or two minutes.
Approximately 15 minutes after the exercise is complete, pictures will be
taken of your heart using a special camera able to trace the radioactive
material that has localized in your heart. You will be asked to sit in a special
chair, and the camera will rotate above and around your chest while special
pictures are being taken, which will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes to
complete. You may relax and breathe normally while the pictures are being taken.
It is important that you hold still while the camera takes the pictures of your
heart. You will not receive any radiation from the camera.
After one-half hour or so, a second injection of the radioactive material
will be given. The resting pictures are taken in the same manner as the exercise
pictures. The total time needed for the test varies and may take from two to
What happens if I am unable to exercise?
Some people, because of a variety of disabilities, are unable to exercise
adequately on a stationary bike or treadmill to achieve a diagnostic test
result. In these cases, your physician will decide on a course of action for
your testing. Our nuclear technologists realize that each patient is at his or
her own level of physical fitness, and therefore, tailor the exercise portion of
the test on an individual basis.
Are there any special preparations for the study?
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for exercise and
comfortable shoes appropriate for walking.
Your physician may instruct you to fast or have a light breakfast and avoid
certain foods such as milk products or caffeine-containing beverages. If you are
diabetic or insulin-dependent, consult with your physician on such dietary
restrictions and insulin use.
Consult with your physician regarding whether certain medications should be
taken before, or held until after the test. Certain medications may interfere
with the effectiveness of the exam.
Important points to remember
- The radioactive material is ordered especially for each patient. If you
are unable to keep your appointment for any reason, please notify our office
before the exam.
- A written report of the test will be sent to your physician once it is
- If you are pregnant, or suspect you are pregnant, notify your doctor
before taking the test.
Preparing for an EMG or nerve conduction medicine test
An electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical impulses of muscles at rest
and during contraction. Nerve conduction studies, which measure nerve conduction
velocity, determine how well individual nerves can transmit electrical signals.
Nerves control the muscles in the body using electrical impulses, and these
impulses make the muscles react in specific ways. Nerve and muscle disorders
cause the muscles to react in abnormal ways.
Measuring the electrical activity in muscles and nerves can help detect the
presence, location, and extent of diseases that can damage muscle tissue (such
as muscular dystrophy) or nerves (such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). In the
case of nerve injury, the actual site of nerve damage can often be located. EMG
and nerve conduction studies are usually done together to provide more complete
Why It Is Done?
An electromyogram (EMG) is done to:
- Diagnose diseases that damage muscle tissue, nerves, or the junctions
between nerve and muscle (neuromuscular junctions). These disorders include a
herniated disc, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or myasthenia gravis
- Evaluate the cause of weakness, paralysis, involuntary muscle twitching,
or other symptoms. Problems in a muscle, the nerves supplying a muscle, the
spinal cord, or the area of the brain that controls a muscle can all cause
these kinds of symptoms.
Nerve conduction studies are done to:
- Detect and evaluate damage to the peripheral nervous system, which
includes all the nerves that lead away from the brain and spinal cord and the
smaller nerves that branch out from those nerves. Nerve conduction studies are
often used to help diagnose nerve disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or
- Identify the location of abnormal sensations, such as numbness, tingling,
Both EMG and nerve conduction studies can help diagnose a condition called
post-polio syndrome that may develop months to years after a person has had
How To Prepare
Patients should notify their doctor if:
- They are taking any medications. Certain medications that act on the
nervous system (such as muscle relaxants and anticholinergics) can interfere
with an electromyogram (EMG) results. Patients may need to stop taking these
medications 3 to 6 days prior to having the test.
- Have had bleeding problems or are taking medications that thin the blood,
such as warfarin (Coumadin) or heparin.
- Have a pacemaker.
Patients do not need to restrict your food or fluids. Do not smoke for at
least 3 hours before the test. Patients should wear loose-fitting clothing that
permits access to the muscles and nerves to be tested.