Your Radiologist Explains Cardiac Computed Tomography (CT)
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Hello, I’m Dr. Shawn Teague, a radiologist at National Jewish Health in Denver. I’d like to talk with you about computed tomography of the heart or cardiac C-T for calcium scoring.
This examination uses a C-T scanner to produce pictures of the coronary arteries which are the blood vessels of the heart, to determine the presence, location and extent of calcified plaque. Calcified plaque is an indicator for coronary artery disease, also known as CAD. Plaque is a buildup of fat and other substances that can narrow or completely block the blood flow in the vessels of the heart.
During the procedure, you will be connected to E-C-G leads on your chest to synchronize the capture of x-ray images with the motion of the heart. The amount of calcified plaque will be expressed as a calcium score. A calcium score of 0 indicates there is no coronary artery disease. A calcium score greater than 0 means there is coronary artery disease present. Your doctor will help you determine your risk for a heart attack based on the calcium score.
If you’re scheduled for cardiac C-T, there are several things you can do to prepare.
First, discuss any recent illnesses and medical conditions with your doctor. Tell your doctor about all the medications you are currently taking and whether you have any allergies. Also, be sure to inform your doctor and the C-T technologist if there is any possibility you might be pregnant.
On the day of your exam, avoid caffeine and smoking for at least four hours before your exam. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and leave any jewelry at home.
You may have some concerns about having a C-T scan. However, it’s important to consider the benefit to your health. While C-T scanning does use radiation, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs any risk.
For more information about cardiac C-T for calcium scoring, visit Radiology Info dot org.