Cardiac CT Angiogram (CTA)

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What is CTA?

  • Cardiac CT or (CTA) uses advanced CT technology, along with intravenous (IV) contrast material (dye), to obtain high-resolution images of your cardiac anatomy, coronary circulation and great vessels
  • Cardiac CT is used to evaluate the heart muscle, coronary arteries, pulmonary veins, the thoracic aorta and the sac around your heart (pericardium)
  • During CTA, x-rays pass through the body and are picked up by detectors in the scanner, which produce 2D and 3D images on a computer screen. These images enable physicians to determine whether plaque or calcium deposits are present in the artery walls
  • CTA is used as a noninvasive method for detecting blockages in the coronary arteries. A CTA can be performed much faster than a cardiac catheterization, with potentially less risk and discomfort as well as decreased recovery time

Cardiac CT Angiogram (CTA)

How to prepare

  • Nothing to eat or drink 4 hours prior to the exam, you may drink water
  • Take all medications as ordered
  • If you are on a beta blocker, please take morning of exam
  • Avoid any caffeinated drinks on the day of your exam. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, or caffeinated sodas
  • Do not use Viagra or any similar medications on the day before or the day of the exam. It is not compatible with the medications you will receive during the procedure (ask your doctor if you have questions)
  • If you are diabetic, ask you physician how to adjust your medications the day of your test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the nurse or technologist immediately
  • Tell your technologist and your Doctor if you are:
       - pregnant
       - allergic to iodine or any medications
       - undergoing radiation therapy
       - over 70 years old
       - have a history of kidney problems (you may be required to have a blood test to evaluate your kidney function prior to receiving any contrast agent)

What to expect

  • You will arrive 90 min prior to your actual scan time to register and get instructions from the Nurse and get prepared for the scan
  • You will change into a hospital gown
  • An IV line will be started in a large vein in your arm to administer contrast (dye) during your procedure
  • The nurse /technologist will clean three small areas on your chest and place small, sticky electrode patches on these areas. Men may expect to have their chest partially shaved to help the electrodes stick. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph (ECG) monitor, which charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test
  • Your blood pressure and heart rate will be taken to determine if a drug is needed to bring down your heart rate
  • You will lie on the CT scanner table with your arms above your head for the duration of the exam (approx. 15 min)
  • During the scan you will feel the table move inside a donut shaped scanner. You will receive a contrast agent through your IV to demonstrate your blood vessels on the images. It is common to feel a warm to hot sensation as the contrast circulates through your body
  • During the scan you will be asked not to move or breathe. You will be asked to hold you breath for approx. 15 seconds. Try practicing your breath holds if you think this may be a problem
  • Once the technologist is sure that all the information is collected the electrodes and IV will be removed
  • The CT scan itself takes about 15 min. Be prepared to be in the department for 15 minutes to 1 hour after your scan depending on what medication may be used

After the procedure

  • You may continue all normal activities and eat as usual after the test
  • If given medication to slow your heart rate down you may feel dizzy, drowsy, or notice a headache

We ask that you arrange for a driver to take you home

Please bring a list of all medications you are presently taking

Cardiac CT Angiogram (CTA) at St. Joseph's Hospital

Last updated: Mon, 2012-07-23 12:20