What does a CTA/CT with contrast show?

A CT or CTA (Computed Tomography Angiography) is a specialized type of x-ray that is focused on the organs, veins, and arteries of your body.  The CTA specifically focuses on detailed images of the arteries and allows the radiologist to see if there is an aneurysm (ballooning of the blood vessel wall), stenosis (narrowing of a blood vessel), or to see if a stent that has been inserted to keep a vessel open is working correctly.  This is accomplished by using a special dye that is injected into a vein.

Preparation for your test?

  • Please do not eat for 8 hours prior to your exam. Unless you have congestive heart failure, drink plenty of water prior to your test and plenty of water after your test. Please only drink water, no other fluids.
  • All jewelry and metal objects will need to be removed from the area that is being scanned. This includes belts, underwire bra, and jewelry.
  • If you are having a CT of your abdomen/pelvis, you may be told to arrive early in order to drink a special contrast to highlight your bowel.
  • If you have a history of allergies to food or medications, specifically iodine or ct contrast, please let your physician know prior to having this exam, as you may need to be pre-medicated.
  • You will need to have labs done within 7 days of this exam to test your kidney function. If your lab values are off, you may also need to be pre-medicated.  Please let your physician know if you have a history of a kidney transplant and/or failure.
  • Follow up labs must be done between 24-72 hours after CT.
  • If you are a diabetic, unless directed otherwise, you make take your Metformin/Glucophage prior to your exam. You will not take it after the exam until your kidney function has again been checked.
  • If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, please notify the technologist as radiation can be harmful to the unborn fetus.

What happens during the test?

  • You will lay on a table and have an IV started. This table will pull you through a donut-shaped scanner while taking pictures as the dye is being injected into the IV.
  • You will need to stay very still, and you will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • The contrast or dye might give you a metallic taste in your mouth and make you feel warm all over. This will last about 30 seconds and will not return.
  • Most exams only take about 10-15 minutes.
  • A registered CT Technologist will be taking your images and is trained to keep the radiation dose as low as possible.

What happens after the test?

  • There are no side effects to this test.
  • Please remember to drink plenty of water, and if you are diabetic, do not take your metformin until after you’ve had your labs drawn and have been given permission to resume the medication.