- A coronary computed tomography angiogram (CCTA) uses advanced CT technology, along with intravenous (IV) contrast material (dye), to obtain high-resolution, 3D pictures of the moving heart and great vessels.
- CTA is also called multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT), Cardiac CT, or Cardiac CAT. During the CTA, x-rays pass through the body and are picked up by detectors in the scanner, which then produces 3D images on a computer screen. These images enable physicians to determine whether plaque or calcium deposits are present in the artery walls.
- CTA is used as a noninvasive method for detecting blockages in the coronary arteries. A CTA can be performed much faster (in less than one minute) than a cardiac catheterization, with potentially less risk and discomfort, as well as decreased recovery time.
- You will usually be given a medication an hour or more before the test to slow the heart rate. A slow heart rate provides better imaging of the heart.
- Take nothing by mouth 4 hours before your test. You may take your medications with a small amount of water, unless otherwise specified.
- You can resume your usual activities and normal diet immediately after the test.
HOW THE TEST IS PERFORMED
- A contrast material will be injected into your vein so the imaging physician (cardiologist and/or radiologist) can view the heart and blood vessels on the CT image.
- After the contrast agent is injected, you may feel flushed, or you might have a metal taste in your mouth. These are common reactions. If you experience shortness of breath or any unusual symptoms, please tell the technologist.
- The technologist will help you lie in the correct position on the examining table, with your arms raised over your head.
- It is very important that you lie as still as possible during the entire procedure. Movement could blur the images. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly at the intervals when the images are taken.
- The table will automatically move into place for imaging. The table moves in and out of the doughnut shaped scanner. The x-ray tube circles the body for five-eight seconds.
- The detector array records the x-rays. Each complete loop of the scanner creates a series of images of the heart. The scanner’s computer processes the images, creating a high-resolution, 3D image when the test is complete.
- Registered and licensed technologists perform the scan, and board-certified cardiologists or radiologists review the results.
- There may be possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, please ask questions to make sure you understand why the procedure is recommended and what the potential risks are.