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Computerized tomography coronary angiography is an imaging technique that examines the coronary arteries ( arteries that supply blood to the heart). A CT coronary angiogram produces images of the heart and its blood vessels using a powerful X-ray machine. The procedure helps to diagnose a variety of heart conditions.

A harmless contrast dye is injected into patients before a computerized tomography coronary angiography procedure to enhance the visibility of blockages and other abnormalities.  An X-ray assessment called a CT scan produces cross-sectional pictures of your body. When contrast dye is administered to a computerized tomography coronary angiography in order to highlight diseased areas, pictures of the heart are produced.

What Is Computerized Tomography Coronary Angiography?

Computerized tomography coronary angiography is a diagnostic test that produces detailed 3D images of the arteries in your heart (coronary arteries) to check for abnormalities in how blood flows through your heart and to diagnose cardiovascular disease. It is sometimes used to determine the overall function of the heart. Abnormality of the arteries in the heart results from plaque buildup, which may consist of calcium, cholesterol or fat that can lead to cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease or heart failure.

What Is The Need For Computerized Tomography Coronary Angiography?

If you have cardiovascular disease symptoms or if your doctor has diagnosed you and needs additional details, you may require a computerized tomography coronary angiography. Reasons for CT Coronary Angiography may include:

In addition to the above indications, computerized tomography coronary angiography also helps to determine any type of heart disease, including heart structure or aortic abnormalities.

How Should I Get Ready For A Computerized Tomography Coronary Angiography

The following steps have to be carried out before undergoing a CT coronary angiography:

  • Your doctor will ask you not to eat or drink several hours before CT coronary angiography
  • You should not do exercise or consume caffeine before CTCA
  • Let your doctor know if you have any underlying medical conditions like heart disease, allergies, recent illness or any other diseases
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before CT coronary angiography
  • Let your doctor know about the medicines you are taking including prescription medicines, non-prescription medicines and herbal supplements
  • Glasses, jewellery, piercings or metal objects may interfere with the images produced by CT. So remove your ornaments or accessories before performing CT coronary angiography.

Computerized Tomography Coronary Angiography - Procedure:

The following are the steps in the CT coronary angiography procedure:

  • You will be instructed to lie down on the table of the CT machine
  • A technologist or nurse will place small plaid disc-like objects called electrodes on your chest and connect them to an ECG monitor which records the electrical activity of your heart
  • Your healthcare provider will insert an IV line containing dye (contrast material) through your arm or hand
  • The table starts moving through the scanner, as it moves it will take multiple images at different angles for accurate imaging
  • Your healthcare provider might ask you to hold your breath and not to move as a slight change in body positioning may impact the quality of the image produced by the CT machine
  • In order to lower the motion of the heart during imaging, your doctor might give medications (usually beta blockers) to control your heart rate
  • To make the arteries more visible, your doctor may ask you to take nitroglycerine prior to scanning
  • After the computerized tomography coronary angiography procedure, a healthcare provider will remove the IV and you can continue normal activities.
  • The results of CT coronary angiography will be monitored by a radiologist, cardiologist, or physician

What Are The Risks Associated With Computerized Tomography Coronary Angiography?

Computerized tomography coronary angiography is considered safe for many people. However, it may cause some complications like:

  • Reaction to the contrast material may cause skin allergy, itching, and skin rashes. In severe cases, it may even cause anaphylaxis- a life-threatening condition
  • Worsening of kidney function (mainly seen in people with kidney diseases)
  • Leaking of contrast material from the injection site
  • Irritation or damage to the skin, blood vessels, or nerves
  • Risk for unborn babies if CT coronary angiography is done during pregnancy (to avoid this risk, women of childbearing age are advised to do pregnancy tests before CT coronary angiography)
  • Development of cancer after several years of radiation exposure, but the radiation exposure is very small in CT imaging
  • Medications given to control heart rate may lower heart rate or widen the arteries. It may also cause a drop in blood pressure which in turn causes lightheadedness and headaches
  • Shortness of breath or heart failure

What Is The Difference Between CT Angiography And Traditional Angiography?

CT angiography and traditional angiography are diagnostic tests to view your blood vessels. Compared to traditional angiograms CT angiograms are less invasive. With traditional angiography, your doctor inserts a long, hollow tube (catheter) through a large blood vessel called an artery, usually in your groin or your wrist. Then, the provider injects contrast dye through the catheter and uses X-ray fluoroscopy to image your coronary arteries (blood vessels) whereas with a CT angiogram, your healthcare provider injects the contrast dye through an IV into your vein. They usually insert the IV into a vein in your arm or hand.


A CT coronary angiography is an imaging technique to view your coronary arteries. compared to traditional angiograms, CT angiograms are less invasive. Healthcare providers use an IV to inject the contrast dye. This dye highlights your blood vessels on the CT scan. . Generally, CT angiography is a quick and painless process. You can go back home on the same day of the test.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can CT angiography detect blockage?

A: The primary purpose of a CT coronary angiography is to look for coronary artery narrowing or blockage (coronary artery disease). It can, however, screen for further cardiac issues.

Q: Is CT coronary angiography safe?

A: CT coronary angiography is considered safe for many people. However, it may cause allergic reactions to the contrast material injected, skin rashes, itching, worsening of kidney conditions, and other allergies in some individuals.

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