Anthony's Story

St. Joseph Performs Lifesaving Diagnosis

Anthony Pancella III eagerly anticipated traveling to Florida for his daughter’s wedding. Those plans were upset when, as he was having dinner with his family one Saturday evening, he felt a sharp pain in the middle of his chest and tingling in his jaw.

The Lindenhurst resident was rushed to Good Samaritan in West Islip, where tests indicated he had not suffered a heart attack. However, his cardiologist referred him to Associate Chief of Cardiology at St. Joseph Salvatore Trazzera, MD, FACC, FACP, FSCCT, RPVI. Dr. Trazzera ordered a cardiac CT, which revealed three calcifications. An angiogram was required, and, because St. Joseph and St. Francis are both Catholic Health Services hospitals, it was quickly arranged. The following morning at St. Francis, the angiogram confirmed three major blockages, so stents were inserted. He was discharged Wednesday night and flew to Florida in time for the wedding.

Mr. Pancella had coronary artery disease (CAD), a condition characterized by the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Left undetected and untreated, CAD can lead to heart attack, congestive heart failure and even death. While CAD is considered preventable, it is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.

Cardiac computed tomographic angiography (CCTA) is a non-invasive diagnostic test capable of detecting the earliest stages of CAD. During a CCTA, state-of-the-art scanners capture images of the heart at an ultrafast speed to build a complete, three-dimensional picture of the organ. The images offer physicians invaluable information about the coronary arteries, heart chambers and valves surrounding anatomical structures and thoracic aorta.

St. Joseph’s recently opened Cardiac CT Center operates under the umbrella of St. Francis Imaging Services. While Mr. Pancella was the first to have the test at St. Joseph, numerous other patients with significant findings have been identified and referred for additional testing or interventions. The tests are being interpreted by Dr. Trazzera and Lev Lubarsky, MD, with results available within 24 hours.

Dr. Trazzera has been involved with cardiac CT since early in his career as a cardiologist and is board certified in cardiovascular computed tomography. Dr. Lubarsky has extensive experience with cardiac CT scanning and oversees the cardiac CT programs at St. Catherine of Siena and St. Charles hospitals.

“It all started at St. Joseph with the cardiac CT and Dr. Trazzera’s recommendation. To this day, my family and I are very grateful and believe the diagnosis received at St. Joseph not only enabled me to give my daughter away but also saved my life,” said Mr. Pancella.

St. Joseph’s Cardiac CT Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 am to 3 pm for elective scans. For more information, please call 516-520-2500.