Demand for echocardiography, CT, and nuclear imaging is dropping due to fears of infection with COVID-19, yet imaging must continue because the coronavirus infection can cause acute cardiovascular disease and cardiac complications. According to Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology, “All the key cardiovascular imaging societies in March and April issued COVID-19 guidelines and lists of considerations for how to continue imaging operations safely under the threat of viral contamination during the duration of containment efforts.”

All of the guidelines share similar key points for best practices to maintain safety and minimize contamination, triage of who should be imaged and who should be postpone to a later date, maintaining social distancing, hand washing, and cleaning of equipment. However, these guidelines vary slightly based on the specifics of each modality. 

Across all imaging and procedures, all elective procedures have been postponed and how to triage patients is a key element of all the various guidelines.

“The tests should be done, very simply, if it changes the care of the patient. If it doesn’t change the care of the patient, and it can be postponed, it should be postponed,” explained Stephen Bloom, MD, FASNC, director of noninvasive cardiology (cardiac CT, nuclear cardiology and echocardiography) at Midwest Heart and Vascular Associates. He is also a member of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) Board of Directors. “I would say 80 percent of our cardiac imaging exams have stopped; it has been very dramatic.”

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