CT Scan of the Coronary Arteries 

A Coronary CTA is a heart-imaging test currently undergoing rapid development and evaluation for non-invasively determining whether either fatty deposits or calcium deposits have built up in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. If left untreated, these areas of build-up, called plaques, can cause heart muscle disease. Heart muscle disease, in turn, can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and/or heart attack.

A Coronary CTA comes from a special type of X-ray examination. Patients undergoing a Coronary CTA scan receive an iodine-containing contrast dye as an IV solution to ensure the best images possible. The same IV in the arm may be used to give a medication to slow or stabilize the patient’s heart rate for better imaging results. During the examination, which usually takes about 10 minutes, X-rays pass through the body and are picked up by special detectors in the scanner.

Typically, higher numbers (especially 16 or more) of these detectors result in clearer final images. For that reason, Coronary CTA often is referred to as “multi-detector” or “multi-slice” CT scanning. The information collected during the Coronary CTA examination is used to identify the coronary arteries and, if present, plaques in their walls with the creation of 3D images on a computer screen. Coronary CTA examinations have tended to help determine a lack of significant narrowing and calcium deposits in the coronary arteries, as well as a presence of fatty deposits.

This has been found to be particularly valuable in asymptomatic patients with higher risk for coronary disease, in patients with atypical symptoms but lower risk of coronary disease, or in patients with unclear stress-test results.

Patient Instructions:

1. You may eat a light breakfast, but avoid caffeine. Please take your medications as scheduled the morning of the test with a sip of water unless otherwise informed. Your physician will give you instructions on which medications to hold.

2. No smoking 6 hours prior to your scan.

3. Please inform your doctor if you have had a previous allergic reaction to x-ray contrast dye or shellfish. Your physician will prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

4. If you are diabetic and take insulin, take 1/2 dose the morning of the study unless otherwise instructed.

5. If you are diabetic and take medication containing Metformin (Glucophage), do not take the morning of the procedure.

6. Your physician may prescribe a medication to lower your heart rate.

7. Your physician will order pre-procedure lab test and EKG.

8. If you have a pacemaker or ICD, the device will be “turned down” immediately prior to the scan and “turned up” immediately following the scan.

9. If you have claustrophobia, inform you physician so you can receive a medication for anxiety.

If you have additional questions about the procedure or instructions, contact your cardiologist.