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CT Angiography (CTA)

What is CT Scanning ?

CT scanning—sometimes called Computed Tomography or CAT scanning—is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

CT scanning combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor, printed or transferred to a CD.

CT scans of internal organs, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular x-ray exams

Why should I do it?

CT angiography is used to examine blood vessels and the organs supplied by them in various body parts, including:

  • brain
  • neck
  • heart
  • chest
  • abdomen (such as the kidneys and liver)
  • pelvis
  • legs and feet
  • arms and hands

Physicians use this test to diagnose and evaluate many diseases of blood vessels and related conditions such as:

  • injury
  • aneurysms
  • blockages (including those from blood clots or plaques)
  • disorganized blood vessels and blood supply to tumors
  • congenital (birth related) abnormalities of the heart, blood vessels or various parts of the body which might be supplied by abnormal blood vessels

 

Many physicians advocate the careful use of coronary CTA for patients who have:

  • suspected abnormal anatomy of the coronary arteries.
  • low or medium risk for coronary artery disease, including patients who have chest pain and normal, non-diagnostic or unclear lab and ECG results.
  • non-acute chest pain.
  • new or worsening symptoms with a previous normal stress test result.
  • unclear or inconclusive stress test results.
  • new onset heart failure with reduced left ventricle function and low or medium risk for coronary artery disease.
  • medium risk of coronary artery disease, before non-coronary cardiac surgery.
  • coronary artery bypass grafts.

Any preparations needed?

  • You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam.
  • Metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins should be left at home or removed prior to your exam. You may also be asked to remove hearing aids and removable dental work. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire. You may be asked to remove any piercings, if possible.
  • You should inform the technologist if you have a pacemaker.
  • You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours beforehand, especially if a contrast material will be used in your exam.
  • You should inform your physician of all medications you are taking and if you have any allergies.
  • Inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or other medical conditions and whether you have a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems.
  • Women should always inform their physician and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.
  • If you are breastfeeding at the time of the exam, you should ask your doctor how to proceed.
  • On the day before and day of your exam, you may be asked to avoid:
    • diet pills and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, energy drinks or sodas. These may increase heart rate and limit the ability of the exam to evaluate for plaque in the coronary arteries.
    • Viagra or any similar medication.
  • On the night before the procedure, you may be asked to take a beta blocker medication to lower your heart rate to optimize the quality of the exam.