Screening for the Heart Transplant
Once a patient is definitely identified for heart transplant, doctors will advise the patient to undergo screenings and tests to determine their existing physical condition and their ability to withstand a major surgery. The tests are also the definitive indicator of the causes that have resulted in the weakening of the heart muscles. The screening not only helps the transplant procedure but also provides the direction for the end-to-end treatment plan being drawn up for the patient.
The doctors may require you to undergo, all or most of the investigations listed below :
- Echocardiogram : A special probe that looks like a microphone is passed over your chest. Sound waves bounce back from the heart and generate a picture of your pulsing heart muscle. It also shows how the heart valves are functioning and if your heart is enlarged.
- Exercise (VO2) Test : This helps the doctor understand, the maximum amount of oxygen your heart and lungs can provide to your muscles during sustained activity. It is performed on a treadmill or bicycle using special equipment to collect expired air. This test is very useful in determining which patients will benefit most from a heart transplant.
- > Right heart Catheterization (RHC): To check the pressures in the right side of your heart. After numbing the area, a narrow flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a vein in your neck or groin. Pressure will be measured in the heart chambers and main blood vessels.
- Coronary Angiogram (LHC) : This test checks for blockages in the heart's arteries. A catheter is inserted into the blood vessel (artery) in the groin or arm and advanced to the arteries which supply blood to the heart. Dye will be injected to look at the arteries and the pumping function of the heart.
- Laboratory Tests : To determine the patient's blood type and ascertain any pre-existing viral infections.
- Chest X-ray : To understand abnormalities in the lungs as well as the size of the heart.
- A Pulmonary Function Test : To determine lung function and oxygen-carrying abilities.
- Carotid & Peripheral Doppler Study : To ascertain blockages in the carotid and leg arteries. This non-invasive test uses an ultrasound probe.
- Colonoscopy : This procedure helps rule out colorectal cancer as one of the underlying factor.
- Mammogram : This procedure helps ascertain breast cancer in females.
- Dental Assessment : To evaluate oral health.
- Eye Testing : To look at the blood vessels behind the eye as well as the overall eye health.
- Psychosocial Evaluation : To ascertain psychological risk factors that can often lead to poor outcomes. Pre-transplant, the clinical social worker provides transplant counseling, education and teaching. The clinical social worker helps monitor how you and your caregiver manage the daily challenges related to your situation, and helps you develop a strong coping plan and offers psychological support.