About Coronary CT Angiography
Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA) is a new way of examining the small arteries that feed the heart muscle. It uses a computed tomography (CT) scanner to visualize blood flow in the coronary arteries and new computer software to manipulate the data into 3 dimensional (3D) images. CCTA is a noninvasive way to examine the walls of the coronary arteries, looking for hard and soft plaque. This information can help your doctor determine your risk of a heart attack.
Patient Information for Coronary CT Angiography
What to expect
You will be instructed to arrive one hour before your exam, in order to be given some medication that will significantly slow your heartbeat. When you are brought into the CT room you will lie comfortably on your back on a padded table that moves through the scanner, which looks like a large square with an opening in the middle. Both ends of the scanner are open; you are not enclosed. You will be able to communicate with the technologist at any time through a two-way intercom.
The technologist or nurse will start an IV in your arm so that intravenous contrast material can be injected during the scan. You will also be connected to equipment that will monitor your pulse. This allows the equipment to scan when the contrast reaches your heart and to eliminate the heart motion from the images.
As the procedure begins, you will hear humming, buzzing or clicking sounds from the CT machine. The table will move in short steps through the scanner as the CT tube rotates around you. At each step, the scanner completes a separate view. The information is processed by the computer and displayed as images on a video screen for the technologist. You will be asked to hold your breath for several seconds during the procedure. You should remain as still as possible to produce the clearest images. When the contrast material is injected, you may notice a warm, flushed sensation and a metallic taste in your mouth for a short time.
The CT scan itself causes no pain. Usually the scanning takes several seconds or just a few minutes to perform. Your scan procedure will take about 30 minutes, and we will ask you to stay about 30 minutes afterwards for observation. When we schedule your appointment, we can give you an estimate of how long your procedure will take.
A RAS radiologist will interpret your CCTA scan and will report the results to your physician within five working days.
You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your CT exam. You will be asked to remove earrings, eyeglasses, dentures, hair pins and clothing containing metal that could interfere with imaging of the area being scanned. You may be asked to change into a gown.
You must not drink or eat anything during the four hours preceding your appointment. Do not consume any foods containing caffeine starting at midnight on the day of exam. You may take your regular medications in the morning, with a small amount of water.
Before the exam begins, please tell your physician and the technologist if you think you may be pregnant.
Side effects and complications
CT scanning causes no side effects. CT does involve exposure to X-ray radiation, but the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
Serious allergic reaction to the iodine-based contrast medium is rare. Our CT staff is well equipped to administer emergency treatment if necessary.
Nursing mothers should wait 24 hours after contrast injection before resuming breast-feeding.
The CCTA exam itself requires no follow-up care.