What is Coronary CT Angiography?
Coronary computed tomography (CT) angiography or heart CT scan is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that uses contrast material to detect any abnormalities within the coronary arteries.
Indications of Coronary CT Angiography
Coronary CT angiography is performed to diagnose an underlying heart condition such as coronary artery stenosis, aneurysms, and blocked or damaged blood vessels that may be causing the following symptoms:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Discomfort or pain in the shoulder, arms, neck, and jaw
- Excessive sweating
- Chest pain
Preparation for Coronary CT Angiography
Preparation for coronary CT angiography includes the following:
- Take your regular medications on the day of the examination unless recommended otherwise by your doctor.
- Stop eating and drinking 4 hours before the test.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery.
- Avoid caffeine or alcohol intake 12 hours before the test.
- Inform your doctor if you are allergic to contrast material or certain other medications.
- Leave your jewellery or valuables at home.
- Your doctor will ask you to change to a patient’s gown.
Procedure of Coronary CT Angiography
Procedure of Coronary CT angiography involves the following steps:
- Your doctor will administer local anaesthesia and a mild sedative to help you relax.
- The incision site is cleaned well.
- Your doctor will introduce a thin catheter into the artery through the arm or groin and advance it up to the heart to the affected coronary artery.
- A contrast dye will be administered through the catheter into the coronary artery.
- The technician will instruct you to lie on the CT table that slides into a tunnel-like CT machine.
- You will be able to communicate with the technician through the speakers attached to the CT scanner.
- The CT machine will be activated and an x-ray tube revolves around you forming several images.
- You need to stay still throughout the test to obtain clear images.
- The X-rays display the flow of dye through your arteries that helps to detect any blockages or other abnormalities.
- Once the procedure is completed, the table will be slid out of the CT machine, the IV line will be disconnected, and you will be allowed to go home.
- The whole procedure may last for about 30 to 60 minutes.
- The results will be sent to the radiologist to read and report back to you.
Post-procedure Care for Coronary CT Angiography
Post-procedure care for coronary CT angiography includes the following:
- After the procedure, you can resume normal activities.
- Drink plenty of water to flush out the dye from the body.
- For improved cardiovascular health, your doctor may recommend making lifestyle modifications such as:
- Include healthy foods in your diet
- Stop smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Perform routine health checkups
- Learn effective stress management techniques
Risks and Complications of Coronary CT Angiography
Risks and complications of coronary CT angiography include:
- Allergic reaction due to the contrast dye
- Risk of cancer due to exposure to radiation
- Kidney problems due to the contrast dye