What is a CT Angiogram of the Coronary Artery?

A coronary computed tomography angiogram (CTA) uses advanced CT technology, along with intravenous contrast (ct dye), to obtain high resolution, 3D pictures of the moving heart and its vessels.  These images enable physicians to determine whether plaque or calcium deposits are present inside the arteries. CTA is a noninvasive method for detecting blockages in the coronary arteries and can be performed much faster than a cardiac cath, with potentially less risk and discomfort as well as decreased recovery time.

Preparation for your test?

  • Do not eat 6 hours prior to your scheduled test time. We still ask that you drink plenty of water before and after your test. Please only drink water, no other fluids.
  • Do not have caffeine/stimulants for 12 hours prior to your test.
  • Do not take antihistamines for 12 hours prior to the test.
  • No erectile dysfunction medications for 48 hours prior to the test.
  • No smoking for 4 hours prior to the test.
  • You will be required to have labs drawn within 7 days of this study to check your kidney function prior to contrast injection. If you have a known kidney problem or history of transplant, please alert the Physician prior to having this study.
  • You will receive an injection of Iodinated contrast for this test. If you have a known allergy or reaction to CT contrast/Iodinated contrast, please notify the Physician so that we can pre-medicate you for this test.
  • If you know that you are pregnant, or think that you might be pregnant, please notify the technologist in advance, as radiation to the unborn fetus may be harmful.
  • If you are a diabetic and take Metformin/Glucophage/Metformin containing products, you must discontinue use for 24 hours after the exam. At that time, you will have blood drawn to check your kidney function again before starting back on the medication. You may take all other medications as prescribed unless otherwise directed.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing without metal or zippers if possible.
  • If you were given any type of pre-medication for contrast allergy, please remember to take them as directed.
  • Try to relax and avoid strenuous situations prior to your test. We need your heart rate around 65 beats per minute in order to obtain a good study.

What happens during the test?

  • You will lay on a table on your back, have an IV started and then bring your hands behind your head.
  • Small pads or patches called electrodes will be put on your chest. Wires connect the pads to an ECG (electrocardiogram) machine. The machine records the electrical activity of your heart.
  • The table will then move you through the center of a large donut shaped scanner.
  • 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.
  • As you move through the scanner, you will need to stay very still, and you will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds.
  • Most tests only take about 20 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.