Thu, June 27

VVMC and Heart & Vascular Center offers advanced heart imaging

The Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona (HVCNA) at Verde Valley Medical Center offers advanced imaging procedures of the heart.

Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE) uses sound waves to create high-quality moving pictures of the heart and its blood vessels.

The test gives physicians clearer pictures than a standard echocardiogram or ultrasound. TEE can help a cardiologist detect blood clots, masses and tumors in the heart, infection of heart valves, and certain congenital heart diseases.

With standard echocardiograms (ultrasound of the heart), the transducer is placed on the patient's chest. The ultrasound beam travels through the chest wall and lungs to reach the heart. Sometimes that view can be limited or obstructed. However, TEE, uses a thin tube that passes through the patient's mouth, down the throat and into the esophagus.

Because the esophagus is so close to the upper chambers of the heart, very clear images of those heart structures and valves can be obtained. TEE has a low risk of complications and can be used in adults, children and even newborns. The procedure lasts between 10 to 30 minutes.

"We are very pleased to provide this level of diagnosis for heart patients in Northern and Central Arizona," said Steven Heilbrunn, M.D., interventional cardiologist at HVCNA. "TEE is a relatively easy test to undergo, yet captures a wealth of information for us to better diagnose our patients."

As a board-certified interventional cardiologist, Dr. Heilbrunn specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart and vascular conditions including coronary interventions for acute and chronic coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular angiography and intervention, non-coronary cardiac interventions for structural heart disease, and noninvasive cardiology including nuclear cardiology. He is certified to perform transesophageal echocardiograms.

Dr. Heilbrunn joined HVCNA in September 2012. He practices at the HVCNA Cottonwood and Sedona locations. To make an appointment with Dr. Heilbrunn, call 928-634-1331.

HVCNA is a cardiovascular physician practice offering services including general cardiology; rhythm abnormalities; the treatment of chronic heart and vascular conditions; and advanced surgical procedures including traditional and minimally invasive open heart surgery. HVCNA cardiovascular specialists include cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, an electrophysiologist, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons, and specialty trained physician assistants, nurse practitioners and registered nurses.

HVCNA is a partnership between Verde Valley Medical Center and Flagstaff Medical Center with offices located in Cottonwood, Sedona, Camp Verde, Flagstaff, Williams and Winslow. For more information, visit