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.

How to Prepare

When you schedule your appointment, we will inform you about any specific preparations depending upon the specific procedure your doctor has ordered. Please contact the Scheduling Department at 949.764-5573 if you have any questions.

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.

Do not consume any caffeine, nicotine, any type of stimulant or any vigorous exercise for 12 hours prior to your exam.

This procedure requires radiographic contrast:

  • You should inform your physician if you have any allergies. If you have been told you are allergic to contrast or have ever had a reaction to Iodine or any form of contrast media, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. A Radiology nurse should contact you. If you have not been contacted by a Radiology nurse at least 24 hours prior to your appointment, please contact the Imaging Scheduler immediately.
  • If you have diabetes, kidney problems, lupus, surgery on your kidneys or multiple myeloma, you must have lab work that includes a BUN and Creatinine performed within 30 days of your exam. If you are over the age of 65 you must have lab work within 90 days of your exam. This provides us with information regarding your current kidney function. Please call your physician if you have not had this blood work.
  • If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and/or you are currently taking any of the following medications: Metformin, Gluicophage, Glucophage XR, Fortamet, Riomet, Metaglip, Glucovance, Actoplus Met, Avandament or Junamet, stop taking your medication for a total of 48 hours after your exam. You must contact your physician for alternative medications and instructions prior to your exam
  • If you are currently receiving Dialysis; please schedule your dialysis to follow your procedure with Contrast or the following day. It is imperative you have dialysis no later than the following day after you have received contrast for your procedure.
  • We encourage you to hydrate with oral fluids at least 24 hours prior to your study. You may have only clear liquids as well as your necessary medications 2 hours before your exam.

Please complete, print out and bring with you the following forms to your appointment:

Outpatient Medication Reconciliation - Download PDF
CT Outpatient Questionnaire - Download PDF

Side Effects/Follow-Up Care

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.

Follow-up care

The CCTA exam itself requires no follow-up care.


Locations where Hoag provides Coronary/ Cardiac CT Angiography services