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About CT Scan

What is CTA?

A Coronary CTA is a heart-imaging test that determines if either fatty deposits or calcium deposits have built up in the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle. When either the fatty deposits or calcium deposits build up they become plaques. These plaques cause heart disease. Heart muscle disease from plaque build-up can lead to multiple problems including shortness of breath, chest pain, and even heart attack. CTA helps to detect heart disease in asymptomatic patients with high coronary disease risk, in patients with atypical symptoms with lower heart disease risk, and in patients who have abnormal or unclear stress test results.

How does CTA work?

A Coronary CTA is a special type of x-ray examination.  The patient lays down on the exam table which will move through the scanner.  Before the test begins, an IV (intravenous line) is inserted.  Through this IV, the patient is given iodine-containing contrast dye. 
Sometimes, medication may be given through the IV to slow the heart rate so that better images can be obtained. After the dye is given and the heart is at the appropriate rate, the test will begin.  The table moves through the scanner and images of the heart, blood vessels, and chest are obtained.  The entire scan takes less than 10 minutes to perform.


Who should have a CTA?

You should consult with your doctor about whether or not CTA is appropriate for you. CTA is used for patients who have:
  • Intermediate to high risk factors for heart disease but who are asymptomatic or have atypical symptoms like fatigue with physical exertion.
  • Patients who have low to intermediate risk profiles for heart disease and have symptoms like chest pain without physical exertion.
  • Patients with abnormal or inconclusive stress tests.

CTA Contraindictations

There are very few contraindications for this test, however, a person is not a candidate for CTA if they have:

  • Decreased kidney functioning
  • Allergies to contrast dye.

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