About Cardiac CTA
A cardiac CTA is a scan of the chest that focuses on the heart. We use a 64 slice scanner that provides pictures with pixel size of 0.6 mm. This allows us to obtain 3-D images of the heart with unsurpassed detail.
The scan produces images of the coronary arteries which are the vessels involved in heart attacks. The purpose of the test is to find blockages of these arteries, a condition known as coronary artery disease. Remarkably, this technology takes pictures of the coronary arteries without having patients undergo the risk of an invasive cardiac catheterization.
When Should I Have a Cardiac CTA?
Common reasons for the test are:
- Evaluation of patients with cardiac symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath that have equivocal or ambiguous stress tests
- Evaluation of patients with sudden cardiac symptoms when blood tests and EKG do not show a heart attack but coronary artery disease is suspected
- Evaluation of depressed heart function when coronary artery disease is suspected
Specialized reasons for the test are:
- Pulmonary vein imaging prior to atrial fibrillation ablation procedures
- Evaluation of anomalous coronary vessels
- Diagnosis of pericardial disease
- Assessment of adult congenital disease
What Will the Exam Be Like?
The exam is very similar to any CT scan. An IV or intravenous catheter is placed in the arm so that contrast material can be injected. The patient lies down on a scanning bed and will be asked to hold their breath for 9-12 seconds as the pictures are taken.
There are a few additional aspects to the test as follows:
- Patients may be asked to take an oral medication called metoprolol prior the exam to slow and regulate the heart rate
- Patients may receive the same medication intravenously during the exam to slow and regulate the heart rate
How Long Will the Exam Take?
The exam will take less than 30 minutes to perform followed by a 30 minute observation period.
Where Do I Check-in for My Exam?
We ask our patients to arrive 30 minutes before their scheduled time to the Radiology waiting area.
How Will I Learn the Results?
Generally, we report the results to your physician the same or following day and allow your physician to discuss the results with you.
How Should I Prepare for a Cardiac CTA?
- It is acceptable to have a light breakfast prior to the test
- Avoid caffeine the day of the exam
- Be well hydrated
- If prescribed, please remember to take your preparatory medication called metoprolol as directed so that we can obtain the best pictures possible
- Arrive to your appointment with plenty of time so that you are relaxed for the exam
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of the Test?
- Many insurance payers cover the cost of the exam but you are encouraged to call your individual insurance company for their current policy
- We accept self-pay individuals provided that a physician orders the test
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