Definition and Overview

Three-dimensional (3D) vascular cartography, formerly known as realistic geometric cartographic imaging (RGCI), is a form of non-invasive diagnostic procedure for detecting heart disease and other problems of the vascular system.

It measures the oxygen supply and assesses the blood flow to and from the heart and other parts of the body without the use of wires, tubes, or catheters. Instead, the procedure uses digitally acquired flow turbulence to examine the vascular system and presents the network of veins and blood vessels being examined in three-dimensional images.

Many hospitals and clinics are using 3D vascular cartography as a new technique for the early detection of coronary artery disease (or CAD) and in formulating treatment and management plans. Currently, it is also being used to evaluate the functional status of the heart and the circulatory system, which in medical terms is known as haemodynamics.

In the past, determining this vital information requires the use of surgery, which entailed risks and complications that can adversely affect the patient’s health, even before the actual treatment or surgical procedure for the disease is started.

Many medical professionals recommend undergoing regular check-ups with 3D vascular cartography, especially those who at a higher risk of coronary artery disease, which is considered to be a progressive silent killer. This disease is often undetected in its early, treatable stages. One of its first symptoms is chest pain (angina pectoris), which could be followed by a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Sudden death from this disease is not uncommon.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Patients, especially those of a certain age, require regular check-ups with 3D vascular cartography to determine or rule out the possibility of certain heart and vascular diseases, including coronary artery disease. These include individuals:

  • Over 30 years old, especially those with a stressful lifestyle
  • With a family history of coronary artery disease, especially those with family members who suddenly died because of the disease
  • Who are obese
  • Suffering from diabetes and hypertension
  • With high lipid (fat) levels in the blood
  • Who have undergone surgical intervention or installation of medical devices for heart conditions, such as stenting, bypass, and pacemakers
  • Who have suffered from heart attacks and currently undergoing treatment for heart diseases

A 3D vascular cartography is a diagnostic procedure, which means that it is not meant to deliver treatment to any part of the body. It is, however, essential in providing crucial information that can help doctors in developing an effective and efficient treatment plan for the patient.

This non-invasive procedure is highly favoured by both patients and medical professionals because it does not involve any pain, anaesthetics, or catheters. There are also no after effects on the patients, who might suffer from physical and mental stress with more invasive diagnostic procedures. It can be repeated regularly and does not require hospitalisation. It also provides doctors with more crucial information, such as blood flow in the myocardial muscles, as well as the demand and supply of oxygen with every beat of the heart. The panoramic data provided by the 3D vascular cartography machine also allows for monitoring and future comparison for the patient’s treatment plan.

How is the Procedure Performed?

A 3D vascular cartography is a relatively simple and straightforward procedure. Patients must prepare properly before coming in to ensure the accuracy of the test results. Before the procedure, the patient is advised to:

Fast and refrain from taking any medication (especially those that affect the function and performance of the heart, such as sorbitrate, beta blockers, vasodilators, calcium channel blockers, and anti-hypertensive drugs). Alcohol and stimulants (coffee, tea, or soft drinks) should also be avoided for 12 hours before the procedure. Not to smoke or engage in physical exercise (such as long walks) 12 hours before the test. Empty his or her bladder before coming in for the procedure

The patient will then be asked to remove all clothing and jewellery, and put on a disposable paper gown for the procedure. While lying down or sitting in a comfortable position, twelve electrodes (typically disposable) are placed on the chest to perform an ECG (electrocardiography) and VAD (vertical acceleration detector). These electrodes are connected to a 3D vascular cartography machine, which will begin to collect the information. Within minutes, a color report containing information such as regional blood flow, a slice map, a cardiovascular cartogram, arrhythmogenicity (the patient’s predisposition to sudden death), the pressure-volume loop, and the patient’s hypertension status is generated.

Detailed counselling will be provided after the reports are provided by the 3D vascular cartography.

Possible Risks and Complications

3D vascular cartography is very safe and should not pose any risks or complications for the patient.


  • EAPCI Interventional Cardiology Organisations
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