Cardiac computed tomography (CT) scans are common imaging exams. CT scans create a series of X-ray images that doctors use to examine, diagnose and develop treatment plans for various heart conditions. At Modern Heart and Vascular, our cardiologists can help you determine if you need this test.
What Is a Cardiac CT Scan?
A CT scan uses X-rays to visualize and examine all body parts, including the heart, bones, and soft tissue. If you're experiencing chest pain or other symptoms, your doctor may recommend a cardiac CT scan to help determine the cause of your side effects. These exams provide a detailed look at the veins and arteries supplying blood to your heart. Doctors often use cardiac CT scans to diagnose, monitor and plan treatments for various vascular conditions.
How Does a Cardiac CT Scan Work?
The cardiac CT scan procedure is a minimally invasive or noninvasive process. It is an outpatient exam, and the scan itself takes around five minutes to complete. Your doctor will provide you with instructions on how to prepare. This will include information on stopping eating or drinking before the exam and removing metal objects — plus the potential risks.
In some cases, you might need contrast materials before your CT scan. Contrast dye is a liquid substance that contains iodine and helps structures like blood vessels show up more clearly on the X-rays. You might receive contrast materials orally by drinking a liquid or by receiving an injection.
During the procedure, you'll lie still on a flat, narrow table attached to the cardiac CT scan machine. You can communicate with the technologist throughout the scan, which only lasts a few minutes. The machine rotates around you, taking X-rays from all different angles. A computer processes and combines these slices to create detailed images of the blood vessels around your heart. A radiologist will examine the images and send a report to your doctor.
Why Get a Cardiac CT Scan?
A cardiac CT scan provides valuable information for your doctor. CT scans are more detailed than regular X-rays. Using the computer-generated 3D images, doctors can pinpoint blood clots, infections, tumors and other issues around the coronary arteries. This information can help your healthcare provider determine the causes of your chest pain and other symptoms. Your physician can then monitor and guide treatment for a range of cardiovascular conditions.
Cardiac CT Scan vs. Angiogram
Cardiac CT scans and angiograms are similar procedures that create images of your blood vessels. However, there are differences. A traditional angiogram is a more invasive process that uses a catheter threaded to the coronary arteries to deliver the contrast dye. Angiograms can also combine diagnosis and treatment in one procedure. CT scans are less invasive exams that solely produce images and do not require recovery time.
Learn More About Cardiac CT Scans Today
If you're wondering whether you need a cardiac CT scan, our team at Modern Heart and Vascular will help you consider your options. Contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation today.
This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.