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Cardiovascular Imaging Suite

The next generation of heart –today

Should you require medical attention for issues concerning your heart, your healthcare team may want to obtain images to better understand what is occurring, to diagnose the condition, and to plan for possible treatments. VCU Health Pauley Heart Center’s Cardiac Imaging Suite provides patients with some of the world’s most advanced cardiovascular imaging of the heart by utilizing Echocardiography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Both imaging forms are safe, pain-free, without ionizing radiation (X-Rays), and allows the physician to safely evaluate the hearts size, function, valves, perfusion, and blood flow. Leading the imaging team is Dr. Gregory Hundley, one of the world’s top heart imaging experts and the first physician to ever use MRI Stress Testing technology to forecast future heart attacks.

Pauley Heart Center’s advanced cardiovascular imaging suite utilizes cutting-edge equipment, ground breaking procedures, and expertise only available at VCU Health Pauley Heart Center. By using these advanced technologies VCU Health is able to provide higher-resolution images, shorter testing times, and expedited results. This ultimately allows the patient to receive lifesaving care sooner.

Located on the ground floor of the North Hospital at VCU Medical Center in the heart of downtown Richmond, the 7,200-square-foot suite is decorated in soothing color pallet is designed to put patients at ease while they undergo testing.

Echocardiography: Safe, simple ultrasound test to screen for heart conditions

Echocardiography uses high-frequency sound waves to provide images of your heart allowing doctors to see the anatomy, structure, function and blood vessels which may identify abnormalities.

Patients who receive a transthoracic echocardiogram will have images obtained while lying still on a bed, and may or may not require an image enhancing agent. During a stress echocardiogram the patient ambulates on a treadmill, or receives an intravenous pharmacological stress agent, to get the heart pumping stronger and faster while increasing blood flow. This allows the healthcare team to evaluate your heart, lungs, and blood vessels under the stress of exercise.

MRI: Get to know the “3 Tesla” magnet

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the heart and cardiovascular system to assist in creating a plan for treatment.

The Pauley Heart Center Cardiovascular Imaging Suite uses one of the most advanced MRI systems available known as a 3 Tesla machine, or 3T. The 3T generates a magnetic field twice as strong as a traditional 1.5T MRI, producing higher resolution images as a result.

During the procedure, the patient lays on a table that glides into a tube-shaped machine. The patient must lay still for precise images, though internal sensors on the smart machine can anticipate an individual’s breath-holding capability, which reduces the chance of poor-quality scans.

MRI Cardiopulmonary Exercise testing

Symptoms of exercise intolerance (shortness of breath, fatigue, pain) may be caused by heart, lung, metabolic, and/or musculoskeletal conditions. A cardiopulmonary exercise test or CPET can help differentiate the causes of exercise intolerance, accurately determine exercise capacity, monitor changes in disease severity, and assess the effectiveness of medical therapies. A CPET measures ventilation, the amount of oxygen consumed, and the amount of carbon dioxide produced during exercise on a treadmill or bicycle ergometer. Patients are also attached to a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter (to measure oxygen in the blood), and ECG leads (to record heart rate and rhythm).

With the MRI CPET, Pauley Heart Center patients undergo cardiopulmonary exercise testing with the addition of MRI to accurately determine cardiac reserve. The result is a more accurate determination of the causes of exercise intolerance in symptomatic patients.

Full list of imaging services at Pauley

  • 3-D echocardiography
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Cardiac ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Contrast echocardiography
  • CT angiography
  • Echocardiography
  • Exercise stress echocardiography
  • Metabolic bike testing
  • MRI exercise testing
  • Myocardial strain imaging
  • Pediatric and routine treadmill testing
  • Pharmacologic stress echocardiography
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • T-wave alternans testing
  • Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)

Meet Your Cardiac Imaging Team

Pauley’s Cardiac Imaging Suite enhances collaboration among all physicians and staff on a patient’s personalized care team: cardiologists, radiologists, exercise physiologists, behavioral scientists, and others. In addition, the suite is used by both Pauley and the Massey Cancer Center to improve diagnostic imaging and treatment for cancer patients. Working as one in the suite, cardiologist Gregory Hundley, M.D. and exercise physiologist Justin Canada, Ph.D. offer a personalized heart and lung imaging experience for every patient.

Gregory Hundley, M.D.

Director, VCU Health Pauley Heart Center

Dr. Hundley is the inaugural director of the VCU Pauley Heart Center, joining the center in July 2018. His expertise in preventive heart care and his research in heart-related conditions in patients with cancer, builds on the strengths of both Pauley Heart Center and Massey Cancer Center.

Dr. Hundley was the first physician in the world to use MRI to visualize and measure blood flow in coronary arteries and demonstrate that MRI stress testing can identify those at risk of heart attack. He trains and teaches physicians around the world in MRI. His research focuses on preventive heart care for patients undergoing chemotherapy, which has been found to increase the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular issues a decade or more after treatment.

Dr. Hundley returned to his hometown of Richmond (and his alma mater at the VCU School of Medicine) from the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he served in several roles over the past 22 years, most recently as the medical director of the school’s cardiovascular imaging facility. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary and after medical school at VCU, he completed his internal medicine residency and fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Parkland Memorial Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

Justin M. Canada, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Division of Cardiology

Dr. Canada is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) with the American College of Sports Medicine. A Richmond native, Dr. Canada went into cardiopulmonary rehabilitation motivated by the positive impact of lifestyle modification on chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Dr. Canada holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Old Dominion University and his master’s and Ph.D. in exercise physiology from VCU. His doctoral dissertation examined the use of exercise testing to identify heart abnormalities in cancer survivors whom had previously undergone radiotherapy treatments.

Clinical Exercise Physiologists are healthcare professionals that utilize scientific rationale to design, implement and supervise exercise testing and programming for those with chronic diseases, conditions or physical limitations. Working closely with our cardiology, radiology, and nursing colleagues this will optimize the information gleaned from patient evaluations and allow more targeted care options.

Contact us

The cardiac imaging suite is located at the VCU Medical Center North Hospital.

Referring providers

To refer a patient to the Pauley Heart Center cardiac imaging suite, call (804)-409-9369

Directions and Parking Click here for information about parking at VCU Medical Center, our valet service, and the Patient and Visitor Parking Deck.