Cardiac CT Angiography

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A CT scan, or CAT scan, is a common term for computerized tomography, a painless diagnostic imaging test that displays two and three dimensional images of internal structures of the body on a computer screen. Cat scan uses a narrow beam of X-rays and high-powered computers to generate images of bones and soft-tissues in the body

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

  • If you have had prior CT scans of the heart at an imaging center other than Jefferson Radiology, please try to bring copies of those images with you. This allows Jefferson Radiology physicians to compare your studies and advise your doctor of any significant changes.

  • You should not eat solid foods for two hours prior to your exam. You may, however, drink plenty of clear fluids, such as water or broth.

  • Do not have any caffeine prior to exam; this includes coffee, tea, soda and chocolate.

  • You have no restrictions after having a CT scan and can go about your normal activities

  • To help eliminate the contrast from your body, drink plenty of water after your exam.


Why is This Exam Done?

Your doctor has recommended you for coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA). A CT scanner uses a combination of a high-tech X-ray scanner and sophisticated computer analysis to provide detailed, 3D images of your moving heart and major blood vessels. CTA is used to examine the health of blood vessels in your body. It can be used to identify weakened sections of arteries or veins and to visualize blood flow, as well as to detect fatty or calcium deposits (plaques) in the coronary arteries. CT angiography provides your physicians with more-precise images of your blood vessels.

What Will Happen During the Exam?

  • While positioning you on an exam table, the technologist will explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have.
  • IV contrast will be used and injected through an IV placed in your arm.
  • During the injection, you may experience a warm sensation all over your body and a metal taste in your mouth. This is normal.
  • If you experience any itching, sneezing, nasal congestion, scratchy throat or swelling of your face, please notify the technologist immediately.
  • You will be asked to lie flat on your back.
  • The exam table will slide into the scanner, only covering the part of your body which is being studied. The scanner is open at the back and the front, allowing you to see out.
  • The technologist will always be able to see and hear you during your exam.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath for a short time while the scanner takes a series of pictures. The time it takes to actually acquire images is very brief.
  • The images will be reviewed, and if necessary, some may be repeated.
  • Even though the scan is about 10 to 15 minutes please allow for an hour prior to your exam to prep and monitor your heart rate.
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How Should I Prepare?

What to Wear

Please dress in comfortable clothing.  Leave all jewelry and valuables at home


Please see your cardiac packet for instructions regarding medications use prior to the exam.

Food and Drink

You should not eat solid foods for two hours prior to your test. You may, however, drink plenty of clear fluids, such as water and broth.

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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefits of Cardiac CTA:

  • Cardiac CTA can help detect blood clots and heart disease or problems at an early stage so that you may get the most appropriate care and treatment.