The coronary CT angiogram is a test that can check your heart for various conditions but is primarily used to check for narrowed arteries of the heart. Coronary CT angiograms are sometimes used in place of traditional coronary angiograms. A CT angiogram may be better than traditional angiography for people who have only a moderate risk of coronary artery disease.
Typically when your doctor needs to check for blockages in your heart’s arteries he or she will perform a traditional coronary angiogram. In a coronary angiogram a catheter is inserted in an artery in the groin and threaded up the blood vessels into your heart. Contrast material is injected through the catheter and x-ray images are taken. Your doctor can see blockages in your heart’s arteries on the images. Since the catheter is in place if blockages are found your doctor can perform a procedure called an angioplasty to open the blockages.
In a CT angiogram, no catheter has to be placed in the groin and the contrast visible on the CT images is injected through an intravenous (IV) line placed in your arm. However, because there is no catheter in the groin if blockages are found you will need a separate procedure to treat the blockages.
This test uses computerized tomography (CT) to check for calcium in your coronary arteries which can be a risk factor for coronary artery disease. No contrast is injected for a coronary calcium scan.
Coronary artery disease occurs when plaques build up within the walls of the heart’s arteries causing narrowing (atherosclerosis). Coronary calcium scans detect the calcium in those plaques. Added up, the amount of calcium in plaques is used to calculate a score that helps determine your risk of coronary artery disease or heart attack.
If the coronary calcium score scan doesn’t reveal calcium in the arteries it doesn’t necessarily mean you are free of plaques. Plaques develop calcium only as they mature. The older you get without detectable calcium, the lower your risk of a heart attack or developing coronary artery disease.
At the time of scheduling, you will be asked to:
When you are finished, you will go back to the DI recovery area and you will be observed for a short time before being discharged.