When you come in for a diagnostic test or scan, you’re not just immediately in the careNeha Gambhir of specialist consultants but also a highly-experienced team of imaging specialists, who will be with you every step of the way.

Cardiac radiographer and Deputy Imaging Manager Neha Gambhir has worked at The Lister Hospital for nine years.

Here she shares how she helps patients before, during and after their scan and what you can expect during your visit.

Tell us about your role at The Lister Hospital?

I am the Deputy Imaging Manager at The Lister Hospital. Within our CT department myself and my team regularly perform different types of examinations, including calcium score and coronary angiography. 

Calcium scoring is a technique used to measure the extent of calcification in the coronary arteries using x-ray images produced by a CT scanner. CT coronary angiography is a technique that allows us to acquire high-resolution three-dimensional images of the moving heart, coronary arteries and vessels, as well as information on the heart muscle and cardiac function.

Imaging of the heart can be very complex and the different types of scanners we use require very different processes and training. That is why training in cardiac imaging is so popular and so exciting – you know you’ve really learned a lot.

How do you and your colleagues support patients when they come in?

Our first interaction with a patient is at the point where they visit or call to arrange their appointment. We’ll give patients detailed instructions on how to prepare - often, patients will be required to fast for four hours although they may continue to drink fluids. They are also asked to avoid caffeine twelve hours prior to the scan to prevent a high heart and may be prescribed beta-blockers by their referrers at the time of their consultation. This is because beta blockers support by slowing down the heart and blocking the action of hormones like adrenaline. 

We always try to book in scans as soon as possible, especially if they have already exhibited symptoms such as chest pain or tightness.

Once patients come in and have been greeted by our reception team they complete a thorough cardiac questionnaire, which we’ll go through with them. We then get them ready for the scan. Once positioned on the CT bed, we connect them up to the cardiac monitor to monitor their heart rate and insert a small cannula in their arm so that we can administer a contrast agent through it. Contrast agent is a dye which helps to highlight the areas that are being examined, in this case the coronary arteries. 

These types of diagnostic tests are non-invasive and patients can go home after they have finished. 


What advice do you have for patients who might be nervous for their scan?

We do sometimes have patients who are nervous, but we work with them to explain each step of the process. We make sure patients have lots of information on the scan and exactly what we are looking for in a calm and soothing environment.

As well as using beta blockers, we do a lot of breathing exercises with the patent to relax them during the scan and ensure the heart rate is within the correct range.

What sets HCA UK apart when it comes to cardiac imaging?

We are constantly investing in new and exciting technologies here. We are the first hospital group in the UK to offer access to CaRi-Heart analysis, which uses artificial intelligence to assess the risk of a serious heart condition or heart attack, many years before anything happens. We use low radiation-dose CT scanners and some of the fastest scanners on the market, so patients spend minimal time in the scanner itself. 

What do you like most about your job?

I have been at The Lister Hospital for 9 years now, having trained as a cardiac CT radiographer in Australia. I love the team I work with here, they are dynamic and supportive and constantly looking for ways to improve the service we offer our patients. 
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