Computed Tomography Angiogram (CT Angiogram)
What To Think About
Benefits and limitations
A CT angiogram is a less invasive test than a standard angiogram. A standard angiogram involves threading a thin tube called a catheter through an artery in your arm or leg up to the area being studied. But with a CT angiogram, no tubes are put in your body. For more information, see the topic Reference Angiogram.
If your doctor sees that one or more of your blood vessels are blocked, you may need a standard angiogram anyway to double-check the abnormal results from the CT angiogram. This is more likely to happen if your doctor is considering surgery to treat the blockage.
If your doctor finds a major blockage in one of your blood vessels during a CT angiogram, you won't be able to get an immediate Reference angioplasty Opens New Window to clear the blockage. You will need a separate procedure. But if you have a standard angiogram and the doctor finds a major blockage, he or she can perform an angioplasty during the angiogram.
Certain things can make CT angiograms hard to read. For example, a fast heart rate may make it hard to get a clear picture of the Reference coronary arteries Opens New Window. Or a large buildup of calcium may show a narrowing of the arteries when there isn't one (Reference false-positive Opens New Window) or show that the arteries are fine when they are not (Reference false-negative Opens New Window). But with a standard angiogram, these things don't interfere with the test.
Another test, called a coronary calcium scan, also uses a CT scan to show how much calcium is in your coronary arteries. This test is for people who have no symptoms of heart disease but may be at risk for getting it. For more information, see the medical test Reference Coronary Calcium Scan.
If your doctor suggests a CT angiogram, you may want to ask what kind of scanner will be used. In most cases, a 16– or 64–multi-slice (or multi-detector) CT scanner is used for the CT angiogram. These scanners provide more detailed images of the blood vessels and organs in less time than other imaging tests. But they may not be available in all medical centers.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference June 13, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Reference George Philippides, MD - Cardiology