What is Coronary/Cardiac CCTA?
Coronary/Cardiac Angiography (CCTA) is an imaging study used to identify blockages of the coronary arteries which are the blood vessels that supply the heart. These blockages – also called stenoses – are caused by atherosclerotic plaque that builds up in the wall of the arteries. Over time they can reduce or completely block blood flow, which in turn can cause serious health complications.
The CCTA test uses a computed tomography (CT) scanner and an intravenous (IV) injection of contrast, takes just a few minutes to perform, and is highly accurate for detecting blockages.
Am I a Good Candidate For CCTA?
It is important to talk about your risk factors with your health care professional. You may be referred for a CCTA if you have:
• Stable chest pain with low or intermediate risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).
• New or worsening symptoms (e.g. chest pain or shortness of breath) with a previously normal stress test result.
• Had an unclear or inconclusive stress test.
• New onset heart failure with reduced heart function.
A good quality CCTA examination requires that your heart rate is < 65-70 beats per minute. In order to help ensure a low heart rate at the time of the study, your doctor or healthcare provider may prescribe you a small dose of oral medication to be taken one hour prior to arrival at our facility.
Once you arrive to our office, a RIMI technologist will take you to the changing area to put on a gown and explain the procedure. An IV will be started in your arm and your heart rate and blood pressure will be measured. Based on these parameters, you may be given additional small doses of intravenous medication. Once your heart rate is satisfactory, we will bring you into the CT suite and have you lie face-up on the table. We will place a small nitroglycerin tablet below your tongue immediately before the CCTA exam which helps to dilate the coronary arteries.
The CT table will move slowly and the images will be taken as an IV contrast agent (“dye”) is administered. You may be asked to hold your breath at times and to lie as still as possible.
Even though the technologist will be in an adjacent room, they will be able to see you through a window and speak with you as well.
The entire test typically takes less than 10-15 minutes. Once completed, we will briefly monitor your heart rate and blood pressure. You will then be able to leave our facility.
What the Findings Mean
A RIMI doctor with subspecialty training will analyze and interpret the images to identify the presence of coronary artery disease and the severity of any blockages that may be present. The radiologist will generate a report of the results that will be sent back to your doctor or healthcare provider.
For patients with stable chest pain, a normal or near normal examination essentially rules out coronary disease as a cause of the symptoms.