Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA)

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58 million Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease, making coronary artery disease (CAD) the number one killer of men and women in the United States. More Americans die of heart disease than all types of cancer combined.

CAD is most commonly produced by atherosclerosis (plaque deposits in the wall of the coronary arteries causing a narrowing of the arteries). Until recently there were no non-invasive studies that could directly evaluate the coronary arteries for the presence of atherosclerotic disease.

Recent advances in multi-detector CT technology now provide detailed three-dimensional images of the beating heart within the timeframe of a single breath-hold. One of the most promising applications for these new tools is the realm of coronary imaging. RIA currently offers two exams to study the coronary arteries, Calcium Scoring and Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA).

For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.

What is a Coronary CT Angiography?

Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA) is a way of examining the small arteries that feed the heart muscle. It uses a computed tomography (CT) scanner to visualize blood flow in the coronary arteries and computer software to manipulate the data into 3 dimensional (3D) images. CCTA is a noninvasive way to examine the walls of the coronary arteries, looking for hard and soft plaque. This information can help your doctor determine your risk of a heart attack.

Who needs a Coronary CT Angiogram?

If you're experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue during heavy physical activity, call 911. For patients with suspected coronary artery disease, a Coronary CT Angiogram can help with the management of the disease. Patients who would benefit from this procedure include those with an intermediate to high-risk profile with no typical coronary symptoms, patients who have had inconclusive results from a stress test, and patients with unusual symptoms for CAD, but low to intermediate risk profiles. Please talk with your doctor to assess your risks.

How do I prepare?

No solid food 4 hours prior to exam. You are encouraged to drink clear liquids up to 1 hour prior for good hydration. Medications allowed up to 1 hour prior to exam time.. Do not consume anything containing stimulants, caffeine or nicotine in the twelve hours preceding your exam.

What should I expect?

The Calcium Scoring study, a non-contrast procedure, is typically performed as the pre-contrast portion of the Coronary CTA exam. Once the calcium score is obtained, you will be given 80-120 cc of IV contrast. Following the 15-minute CT exam, you should expect to stay in our office an additional 15-30 minutes for observation.

What do the test results mean?

Once your scan is completed, your images will be interpreted by the radiologist. Your physician will receive a dictated report discussing the radiologist's findings, including your cardiac score. With this information, your doctor can recommend the appropriate treatment. This may include diet and lifestyle changes, medication and/or further testing.