Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)
Computed Tomography (CT) is a non-invasive diagnostic method of body imaging that uses x-rays to create detailed picutres of structures inside the body. Each time the scanner rotates, a “virtual slice” of the area is captured and is reconstructed in 3-dimensions using computers.
Cardiac CTA uses an injection of intravenous contrast, similar to that used in cardiac catheterization, with subsequent CT imaging to outline the coronary arteries. These are the vessels which bring blood flow to the heart muscle and can become clogged leading to heart attack. This test can visualize plaque build-up and calcium in your coronary arteries and help your doctor plan how to best treat atherosclerosis. CTA also gives information about the structure of the heart and what is known as ventricular function, or simply said the “strength of the squeeze” of your heart.
CTA is not for everyone. It is used in patients who have had chest pain with an unclear source or when other types of cardiac stress testing do not give clear answers. Patients who have an irregular heart beat or kidney problems cannot undergo cardiac CTA. This test can be performed as an outpatient and takes only about thirty minutes to complete.