Chances are unless you’ve had one, you likely haven’t heard of a CT Angiography. Otherwise known as a computed tomography angiography (CTA), this procedure uses a contrast injection coupled with a CT Scan to diagnose blood vessel disease and other conditions related to the health of your blood vessels. We’ll dive into the ins and outs of the CTA procedure below.
A CT coronary angiogram relies on a powerful X-ray machine to produce images of your heart and its blood vessels. These tests are noninvasive and don’t require recovery time. Coronary CT angiograms are gradually becoming a viable option for people with an assortment of heart conditions.
What is a CT Angiography?
CTA is a minimally invasive medical test that allows your doctor to diagnose and treat medical conditions. It uses, in most cases, an injectable dye—or contrast material—to produce more detailed images of the body.
Using a CT scanner, a CTA is able to create detailed images of bodily tissue and blood vessels for specialists to diagnose and treat diseases. After the scan, the images are processed through special computer software to further review in different perspectives.
How are CTAs used?
A CTA is mostly used to check for narrowed or blocked arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease). CT angiography can also be used to examine blood vessels in many different body parts, including:
- liver and kidneys
- legs and feet
- arms and hands
Preparing for the Procedure
Before your CT angiography, your physician might give you medication called a beta blocker to slow your heart rate to around 60 beats per minute, allowing a clearer image to be produced from the scan. It’s important to ask questions and share any issues you’ve had with medications in the past with your doctor before this procedure.
During the Procedure
A technician will likely give you a numbing medication before inserting an IV into your hand or arm to inject contrast dye, making your arteries and blood vessels visible on the images.
The technician will record your heart rate throughout the procedure while you lie on a table that moves through a tunnel-like machine. You’ll be asked to remain still and even hold your breath to avoid having blurred images from the procedure. Let your doctor know ahead of time if you’re claustrophobic or uncomfortable in confined spaces, and he or she will likely provide something to help you relax.
After the procedure
After your CT angiography is over, you can return to your normal daily activities. The procedure itself should only take about an hour. Drink a lot of water to flush the contrast dye from your body.
The images from your CT angiogram should be ready for viewing soon after your test is complete. Your physician will likely have you schedule time to go over the results together.
Getting the Results
Based on the results of your test, your health care provider will diagnose whether you have a heart-related condition or whether you’re at risk for developing heart disease, then discuss options for treatment or lifestyle changes you can make for preventative care. If you’re looking to receive a CTA in New York, contact the specialists at Rosetta Radiology today to schedule your consultation!