Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)
What is a Coronary CTA scan?
Coronary CT Angiography is a minimally invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a state-of-the-art CT scanner to provide x-ray images of the veins and arteries of the heart. When the CT scanner completes its scan of the heart, a computer reconstructs the data into three dimensions. The images presented provide accurate information for the radiologist to make a diagnosis so your cardiologist and/or physician can treat you.
What are some common uses of Coronary CTA?
A non-invasive imaging examination is performed to determine if fatty or calcium deposits have built up in coronary arteries or bypass grafts. Vessels are evaluated for narrowing, blockage, enlargement, or anomalies. Unlike invasive Cardiac Catheterization which shows only if an artery is narrowed, CTA identifies atherosclerotic plaque within the wall. Mild arterial narrowing by soft plaque can rupture and result in a heart attack. Coronary CTA enables patients to know if they have coronary artery disease before serious coronary artery disease symptoms begin.
If you have symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain, you may be considered a candidate for the exam. Additionally, there are risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity, which may make you a candidate for a Coronary CTA, pending your physician’s approval.
What preparation is required for a Coronary CTA?
In preparation for the study, patients should:
- Avoid caffeine products for 12 hours prior to this study
- Not eat for three hours prior to this study
- Avoid erectile dysfunction medications for 48 hours prior to the study
- Arrive 60 minutes prior to your scheduled study so that your vital signs can be obtained and an IV can be placed in your arm. Medications like a beta blocker or nitroglycerin are also usually given to improve the quality of the study.
How long does the scan take?
Approximately 10 minutes on the CT table. The actual CTA acquisition ranges from 10 to 20 seconds.
What is a Cardiac MRI?
It is a test that produces both motionless and moving pictures of the heart and great vessels. This is used for analyzing heart function and anatomy. MRI can be used to accurately quantify right and left heart function like ejection fraction, can evaluate shunts within the heart, and can look for congenital anomalies. Gadolinium contrast is used to evaluate the heart muscle for signs of scarring from inflammation or from a heart attack.
MRI uses large magnets and radio-frequency waves to produce pictures of the body’s internal structures; no x-ray exposure is involved. The study takes approximately 1 hour.
What preparation is required for a Cardiac MRI?
Preparation for most MRI exams is minimal. You may be asked not to eat or drink before the exam depending upon the body area to be examined. Routine safety questions will be reviewed in detail when you schedule your exam.