Cardiac CT- Cardiology
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Doctors: Physicians, radiologists, technicians
What is cardiac CT?
Cardiac computed tomography (CT) is a heart-imaging test which uses CT technology with or without intravenous (IV) contrast (dye) to visualize the anatomy of heart, coronary circulation, and blood vessels such as the aorta, pulmonary veins, and arteries.
Several types of cardiac CT scans are used such as:
- Calcium-score screening heart scan
- Coronary CT angiography (CTA)
- Total body CT scan
Whether the IV dye is used or not, the basic process of the test remains the same. During the procedure, the patient is asked to lie still on the CT table that will slide into the scanner. During the scan, patient’s heart rate is monitored by an electrocardiogram (EKG). Patient will hear some types of noises from machine such as soft buzzing, clicking, or whirring sounds when the scanner is taking images. Patient would be able to communicate with the doctor or technician while he or she is inside the scanner. Patient may be asked to hold the breath for few seconds during the procedure.
- Calcium-Score Screening Heart Scan: This type of scan is used to detect calcium deposits in atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries. If calcium is present, the computer creates a calcium "score" which helps to estimate the extent of coronary artery disease depending on the number as well as density of calcified coronary plaques in the coronary arteries. This scan does not require any IV dye.
- Coronary CT Angiography (CTA): Right before this test, a contrast dye (generally iodine) is injected into a vein of patient’s arm. This contrast dye basically highlights the blood vessels and helps to gain clear images. Patient may feel some discomfort due to needle along with a temporary metallic taste in the mouth. Patient may be also given medications to lower the heart rate to improve the quality of images. Next,
- Total Body CT Scan (TBCT): This scan analyzes three major areas of the body: the lungs, the heart, and the abdomen/pelvis.