Your Radiologist Explains Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (Coronary CTA).
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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 coronary computed tomography angiography or coronary C-T-A.
Coronary C-T-A is a heart imaging exam that helps determine if plaque has formed in the coronary arteries. Plaque is a buildup of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood that can narrow or completely block the blood flow to the heart.
During the procedure, iodine-rich contrast material is injected into a vein usually within your arm. C-T images are then captured as the material flows through the heart blood vessels. These images can be reformatted to produce a three-dimensional image of your coronary arteries.
C-T images provide greater detail of soft tissues and blood vessels than traditional x-rays.
If you’re scheduled for Coronary C-T-A, 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’re currently taking and whether you have any allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Also, be sure to inform your doctor and the CT technologist if there is any possibility you might be pregnant.
On the day before and day of your exam, you should avoid caffeinated products, including diet pills, coffee, soda, and energy drinks. You should also avoid erectile dysfunction medications (such as Viagra) as these may conflict with medications given during the procedure. You will likely be given medications such as nitroglycerin to dilate the blood vessels around the heart and beta blockers to decrease heart motion. These medications help provide the best pictures of your heart. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and leave any jewelry at home.
You may have some concerns about C-T scanning. 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.
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