Coronary CT Angiogram
A Coronary CT Angiogram is a non-invasive and outpatient test that uses advanced CT technology to visualize the heart and its arteries. The heart is always in motion, which has made taking pictures of it difficult in the past. This new 64-slice CT scanner can take 64 pictures of the heart per minute. With the help of contrast dye and computers, it is possible to get three-dimensional images of a moving heart and the great vessels.
What is the test for?
The images from this test help the physician to identify and diagnose problems with your heart, such as narrowing of the arteries, plaque buildup in the arteries, congenital abnormalities, or problems with bypass grafts, to name a few.
What is the test like?
You will be asked to lie on a special scanning table. An intravenous line (IV) will be inserted into your arm so that contrast dye can be given during the test. The IV may also be used to give medications to slow your heart rate, if necessary. Both the dye and the medications will help produce better pictures of your heart. Three electrodes will also be placed on your chest in specific areas, so that the electrical activity of your heart can be recorded during the test. You will be asked to place your arms over your head when everything is ready, and then the table will move you under the CT scanner. The scanner is large and donut shaped. The actual scan will take less than 10 minutes. Your IV will be removed and you may resume your normal activities 30 minutes after the test. The doctor’s office will call with the results within a week.
How do I prepare for the test?
- Tell your physician: 1.) if you are pregnant or could possibly be pregnant, 2.) if you have had an allergic reaction to contrast dye or iodine, 3.) if you have a history of kidney problems.
Your physician might order a blood test to check kidney function before the test.
- Avoid any caffeine on the day before or day of the procedure. This includes coffee, tea, caffeinated beverages, decaffeinated beverages and chocolate. Do not use Viagra or any similar medication on the day before or the day of the exam.
- Do not eat solid food 2 hours before the exam.
- Do not take diuretics (water pills) or potassium supplements the morning of the test.
- Do not take Glucophage (metformin), or combination pills with this drug, the morning of the exam and for 2 days following the study, or on the advice of your physician.
- You may be asked to take a medication (beta blocker) the evening before and/or the morning of the study to help decrease your heart rate.
- Drink plenty of fluids the day prior, the day of, and for 24 hours following the study.