Cardiac computed tomography, commonly known as a cardiac CT, is an invaluable tool in the detection of heart disease. It combines multiple X-ray images with the aid of a computer to produce detailed, cross-sectional views of the heart anatomy, coronary circulation, as well as the “great” vessels (the aorta, pulmonary veins and arteries). It is a painless procedure in which you are injected with an intravenous dye (iodine), thus enabling the radiographer to scan the heart with a high speed CT scanner and assess the blood flow to the heart muscle.
Calcium Scoring CT
The calcium scoring CT (computed tomography) is an unenhanced high-resolution CT of the heart. The calcium scoring CT is analyzed to provide an evaluation of the amount of calcium present in the coronary arteries. The amount of calcium in the coronary arteries correlates to the risk of heart disease you may have.
Cardiac CT Angiogram (CTA)
The cardiac CT examination requires placement of EKG electrodes on your chest to monitor the heart rate throughout the study. After an analysis of the heart rhythm, medications may be given to enhance the imaging ability. Occasionally, you will be given additional intravenous beta-blocker immediately prior to the study in order to further slow the heart rate. An intravenous catheter (IV) is placed into a vein in your arm for administration of contrast material. A dose of sublingual nitroglycerine will also usually be given to the patient immediately prior to image acquisition for the cardiac CT angiogram to help dilate the coronary arteries. This examination enables visualization of the coronary arteries, as well as other cardiac and related structures.