Cardiac computed tomography (CT) is a non-invasive medical imaging test that uses X-rays to create detailed pictures of the heart and its blood vessels.
You may be asked to have a cardiac CT for the following reasons:
A) There is a concern that there is plaque built up in the coronary arteries (the important blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to your heart muscle) that leads to angina, breathlessness, heart rhythm disturbances or heart attacks.
B) There is another concern about the structure of your heart blood vessels or anatomy
C) To plan for a procedure to replace a heart valve (especially TAVI), implant a device (e.g LAAO) or perform a catheter ablation.
D) Before open heart surgery to consider the risks of performing cardiopulmonary bypass
Here is some information that may be helpful for patients undergoing cardiac CT:
There is normally no specific preparation required for this test but you may be asked to take additional medications to slow your heart rate and/or avoid caffeine or other stimulants which increase the heart rate
During the test, the patient lies on a table that slides into a large, doughnut-shaped machine. The machine takes multiple X-ray images of the heart from different angles, which a computer then uses to create a detailed 3D image of the heart and blood vessels.
The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes to complete.
While cardiac CT is generally considered safe, it does expose patients to a small amount of radiation. Patients with kidney disease or other health issues may also be at increased risk for complications from the contrast dye used in some cases.
After the test, an imaging specialist will review the images and send a report to the patient’s doctor. The doctor will then discuss the results with the patient and recommend any necessary follow-up care.
It’s important for patients to discuss any questions or concerns they may have about cardiac CT with their doctor or healthcare provider.