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
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
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
Outpatient Medication Reconciliation -
CT Outpatient Questionnaire -
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
The CCTA exam itself requires no follow-up care.
Locations where Hoag provides Coronary/ Cardiac CT Angiography services