Coronary Angiogram CT
Coronary angiogram CT is a less-invasive imaging study that helps identify fat and calcium deposits that have accumulated in the coronary arteries – the main blood vessels to your heart. These deposits, often referred to as plaque, can lead to blockages that can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart attacks. This exam detects not only calcium deposits, but also soft plaque, including vulnerable plaque, which has been identified as the more likely cause of heart attack and sudden death.
Since a coronary angiogram CT is less invasive, the procedure is more popular for patients who suffer from a variety of heart conditions. Where traditional coronary angiograms insert a flexible tube (catheter) from your groin or arm to your heart, a CT angiogram relies on an IV and a powerful 64-slice CT scanner to form complete images of your heart and blood vessels without major intervention. Furthermore, this scan can also identify weakened sections of blood vessels and visualize blood flow.
What Happens During my Coronary Angiogram CT?
- Once we establish eligibility for the exam, such as slow enough heart rate, you may be given a gown to change into and then taken into the CT room.
- The technologist will check your heart rate to monitor how your body has reacted to any beta blockers prescribed by your doctor for your exam.
- The technologist will also start an IV in your arm vein to administer a contrast agent.
- We then position you on the imaging table and attach heart-rate-monitor leads to your chest.
- During your exam, we leave the room; however, we will monitor you from the control panel for the entire scan – we will be able to see you throughout.
- The technologist will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 15 seconds while we scan your coronary arteries. Your calcium score will be recorded, followed by a test bolus.
- We will spray nitroglycerin under your tongue to help dilate the arteries and generate high-quality images.
- We then perform the angiogram, which involves injecting a volume of contrast through your IV.
- During the injection, you may feel a warming sensation as the contrast enters your body.
- After the imaging is complete, we remove the IV, and you can resume normal activities.
- After the CT scan is complete, one of our radiologists will review the results and send a detailed report to your doctor. We try our best to send the results as soon as possible, usually within one business day.
During a coronary angiogram CT, you will be moved into the scanner feet-first, on your back.
A coronary angiogram CT lasts up to 30 minutes.
Being prepared for your coronary angiogram CT helps us take the best possible images for diagnosis. Please visit our exam prep page for more instructions specific to CT angiogram preparation.