Pittsburgh Cardiovascular Institute
200 James Place, 1st Floor
Monroeville, PA 15146
Phone: 412-372-2035 Fax: 412-229-1432

For Patients: Frequently Asked Questions

Pittsburgh Cardiovascular Institute: Setting a new standard for patient convenience, comfort and flexibility.


At Pittsburgh Cardiovascular Institute you can be assured of:

  • Prompt Service - timely appointments and sensitive patient care in a pleasant setting.
  • Quick Report Turnaround - acute findings called to your physician immediately.
  • Managed Care - participation in a broad range of plans to ensure maximum value for patients.
  • Experienced Medical Staff - Our Radiologists and Cardiologists are Board Certified with subspecialty expertise, supported by registered technologists.
  • Quality Care - Pittsburgh Cardiovascular Institute is accredited by the American College of Radiology.

For further information regarding our heart clinic, diagnostic imaging or laboratory services, call our main office at 412-372-2035 or contact our medical director.

Rapid turn-around time

Pittsburgh Cardiovascular Institute has built its reputation by providing the highest quality of care along with rapid


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 412-372-2035.

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 Draw Station


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 Center?


Some blood tests do require fasting prior to having your blood drawn. Please contact your healthcare provider to determine his/her requirements for your specific testing.


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 conditions.


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 five hours.


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 interpreted.
  • 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


Test Overview


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 information.


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 (MG).
  • 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 Guillain-Barré syndrome.
  • Identify the location of abnormal sensations, such as numbness, tingling, or pain.

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 polio.


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.