Computed Tomography Coronary Angiogram
What is Computed Tomography Angiogram?
Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses an injection of contrast material into your blood vessels and computed tomography (CT) scan to create detailed pictures of your heart and blood vessels to diagnose and evaluate blood vessel disease.
Why Computed Tomography Angiogram?
CTA is recommended by your doctor to look for:
- Narrowed (stenosis) or blocked blood vessels.
- A bulge (aneurysm) or tear (dissection) in the aorta, the large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of your body.
- A blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
- Pericarditis, which is inflammation of the pericardial sac around the heart.
- Peripheral arterial disease, which is a narrowing of the arteries in the legs.
- Congenital heart disease.
Computed Tomography Angiogram Potential Risks and Complications
CTA is generally painless, fast and easy. You will be exposed to some radiation during the test and may have an allergic reaction to the dye injected to contrast your blood vessels. You may have some discomfort from remaining still for several minutes or minor pain from your IV placement. You should not have CTA if you’re pregnant as it can possibly harm your unborn child. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about CTA. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of CTA so you can make an informed decision.
Preparing for Computed Tomography Angiogram
Your doctor will give you specific instructions about how to prepare for CTA. You can drive yourself to your appointment and drive yourself home after the test.
What to Expect
What to Expect During a Computed Tomography Angiogram
During a computed tomography angiogram
This is what happens during a computed tomography angiogram:
- You will lie on a table that slides through the short, tunnel-like CT scanner and may be given a mild sedative to help you relax if closed spaces affect you.
- Leads to an electrocardiogram will be placed on your chest to synchronize the CT scanning with your heartbeats.
- An IV will be placed in your arm so the contrast dye can be injected.
- You may receive a beta-blocker to slow your heart rate so your doctor can obtain clearer images on the CT scan.
- You may also be given nitroglycerin to dilate your coronary arteries.
- You may be asked to hold your breath during the scanning. Any movement can affect the images from the CT scan.
- Once the CTA is completed, you can return to your normal daily activities.
- Drink lots of water to help flush out the dye that was injected.
After a computed tomography angiogram
Your Saint John’s Physician Partners cardiologist will discuss your treatment options, benefits and risks, and answer any questions you may have so you can make an informed decision. Be sure to let your doctor know if you experience an allergic reaction or unusual pain or bleeding at the injection site after you go home.