If myocarditis is suspected, the patient’s doctor may order one test or a variety of tests to confirm a diagnosis. During a myocarditis diagnosis, the patient will go through a thorough physical exam and be asked a series of questions. Once this is all done, diagnostic tests are used to confirm the diagnosis, as well as determine how severe the patient’s case is.
Physical Examination Basics
During the physical examination, the patient’s doctor will be looking for specific signs of this condition. These may include:
- Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
- Abnormal heart sounds or heartbeat
- Fluid in the lungs
- Swelling in the legs
This diagnostic test is noninvasive and often one of the first tests performed. This test will give the doctor a picture of the heart’s electrical patterns, as well as detect any abnormal heart rhythms. This test can also determine if any heart muscle is damaged or weakened.
Magnetic resonance imaging is another common test that can give the doctor a wealth of information about the patient’s condition. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging will provide detailed images of the patient’s heart, and its shape, size, and structure. This test can help to confirm or make a myocarditis diagnosis. It can also show signs of heart muscle inflammation.
There are several blood tests that can be performed to assist in making a diagnosis, as well as determining the underlying cause. Blood testing is primarily done to measure certain enzyme levels that could mean there is damaged heart muscle, as well as to measure the patient’s red blood cell and white blood cell levels. This testing can also be done to look for antibodies against viruses, as well as other organisms, that could indicate that the patient has a myocarditis-related infection.
A chest x-ray will take a picture of the patient’s chest. This will give the doctor a chance to look at the shape of the patient’s heart, as well as the size of his or her heart. This test can also look for fluid around the heart or in it, that may indicate heart failure.
This diagnostic test uses ultrasound, or sound waves, to create moving images of the heart as it beats. This test may detect poor pumping function, fluid around the heart, enlargement of the heart, or valve problems.
Endomyocardial Biopsy and Cardiac Catheterization
This diagnostic test involves carefully inserting a catheter in a vein in the patient’s neck or one of his or her legs, then it is threaded into their heart. Through the use of a special instrument, a small heart muscle tissue sample can be obtained (biopsy) so that it can be sent to the laboratory and analyzed. Analysis may help to show signs of infection or inflammation.
MayoClinic.com. (2010). Myocarditis. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from MayoClinic.com: https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/myocarditis/DS00521
MedlinePlus. (2010). Myocarditis. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from MedlinePlus: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000149.htm