Coronary / Cardiac CT Angiography
Coronary CT angiography (CTA) is a non-invasive examination used to visualize the coronary arteries in order to assess whether there are blockages or restrictions to the flow of blood (and oxygen) to the heart. Coronary CTA is a form of CT (computed tomography), which uses the latest state of the art CT scanners in order to freeze cardiac motion while contrast is administered through an IV in the arm, and allow for both 2D, 3D and 4D visualization of cardiac structures such as the coronary arteries.
This type of technology is revolutionizing the way patients with chest pain are treated and over the past few years has grown into a more established technology that can provide accurate assessment of coronary artery disease without some of the risks associated with the more invasive alternatives (such as diagnostic conventional coronary angiography also known as cardiac catheterization).
Our state of the art CT scanners are capable of providing all of this relevant information regarding the coronary arteries while administering the least amount of radiation, when compared to many of the cardiac centers in the region.
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.