What is Cardiac CT Angiography?

CT Angiography (CTA) is a radiological test that is used to create detailed images of the blood vessels in your body, including those in your heart, lungs, kidneys, legs and arms. We use this test to determine whether blood vessels throughout the body are blocked, damaged or malformed.

A CTA is commonly used to:

  • Detect a narrowing (stenosis) or blockage in the coronary arteries
  • Diagnose coronary artery disease
  • Detect heart problems, such as pericarditis
  • Examine pulmonary arteries in the lungs
  • Detect clots in the veins
  • Visualize blood flow in the renal arteries
  • Identify aneurysms inside the brain
  • Detect the risk for a heart attack
  • How does Cardiac CT Angiography work?

    A CCTA is a minimally invasive procedure that involves injecting contrast dye into a small vein in your arm or hand through an I.V. During a CCTA exam, you may be given betablockers or nitroglycerin to control your heart rate. The CT scanner then uses a series of x-rays to obtain many cross-sectional images which are reconstructed by a computer into very detailed 3-dimensional pictures. A CTA is an alternative to a catheter angiogram, a much more invasive procedure that uses a large catheter to inject the contrast material, usually through the groin.

    Read more about CT.

    How do I prepare?

    Request an appointment online or call us to book your appointment. Once your appointment is booked, your forms will be available on the patient portal.

    Avoid any caffeinated drinks on the day before and the day of your exam. Avoid energy and diet pills the day before and the day of your exam. Do not use viagra or any similar medication on the day before and day of your exam. Continue to take all of your medications.

    One of our nurses will contact you before you arrive, review your medical history and medications, and decide if you need to stop any of your medications for this exam.

    On the day of your exam do not eat for 1 hour prior to your exam. Please leave all jewelry at home. Please be aware that sometimes it is necessary to give medication (beta blocker) to help lower the heart rate. If this occurs you could be here 1 hour or more.

    Omipaque oral contrast prep for CT scan

  • Do not take if you have an iodine allergy.
  • Begin drinking the Omnipaque oral prep 1 hour and 40 minutes before your exam, preferably finishing 20 to 30 minutes before the exam.
  • To prepare the contrast drink:
    1. Pour HALF the contents of the Ominpaque bottle into the 32 oz. cup that was given to you.
    2. Fill the cup with water up to approximately 1/2 inch from the top of the cup (approximately 30 oz).
    3. Stir well and drink.
    4. Discard the cup, contrast bottle and straw after use.

    Bring with you to your appointment:

  • Prescription from your doctor.
  • Current insurance card.
  • Authorization number from your insurance carrier.
  • Any forms you completed at home.
  • Credit card or cash for your insurance co-pay.
  • Any relevant imaging studies that you have from another facility, including the reports. We like to compare the MRI with any previous studies to assist in the diagnostic process.
  • Picture identification.
  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

    What do I do when I arrive?

    Present your prescription, insurance card and completed forms at the front desk. If any additional forms are required, they will be given to you at this time.

    Be sure to inform the receptionist and technologist if you:

  • Have allergies, specifically to iodine.
  • Have any compromised kidney function or a history of kidney disease.
  • Are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or are breast feeding.
  • Are currently taking any medications.
  • Have any metal or implanted medical device in your body.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have asthma.
  • Have any relevant studies from another facility. We like to compare the new MRI/PET study with any previous studies to assist in the diagnostic process.
  • Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

    What happens during the test?

    All metal must be removed before your scan including jewelry, dentures, eyeglasses, belt buckles and any clothing with metal zippers or buttons. Metal interferes with the quality and accuracy of the images captured during the CT. You may be asked to change into a gown.

    The CT technologist will confirm that you are free of all metal and review your medical history with you.

    You will then be brought into the CT room and asked to lie down on the scanning table. The scanning table you are lying on will be moved into the center of the opening and the test will begin. The machine never touches you. Be sure to remain as still as possible to ensure the best possible images. Although the CT technologist cannot stay in the room with you during the scan, he or she will be able to talk to you from outside the room through an intercom.

    Once all of the images have been recorded, the scanning table will move out of the CT machine and the technologist will return to assist you off the table.

    The CT scan can take from 2 to 10 minutes, depending on the area of the body being scanned.

    CT with I.V. contrast

    After reviewing your medical history, the nurse or technologist will place the intravenous needle/catheter into a vein in your arm or hand. Then at a specific time in the exam, contrast will be injected into your I.V. It is normal to feel a warm sensation throughout your body and a metallic taste in your mouth.

    What happens after the test?

    One of our board certified radiologists interprets your images, compares them to any previous studies and dictates a report which is transcribed, proofread and signed. The report is then faxed and mailed to your referring doctor within one or two days. Your doctor will read the report and review the findings with you.

    All of your signed reports and images are available to your referring doctor on our physician's web portal, and available to you on the patient web portal.