Cardiac CT

Also known as: cardiac CT scan, cardiac CAT scan.

What is cardiac CT?

Computed tomography is a medical imaging test, (commonly known as a CT scan), which combines taking multiple X-ray pictures of the body, layer by layer to produce, with the aid of a computer, cross-sectional views of the body. It can be used as a diagnostic tool for a wide variety of medical (including cardiac) conditions. When a CT scan is performed on the heart to visualize the heart anatomy, coronary circulation (coronary computed angiography -CTA), and large blood vessels of the heart (aorta, pulmonary arteries and veins and arteries) it’s called a cardiac CT scan. Intravenous contrast (dyes) may be used to improve visualization.

What happens during the procedure?

The patient lies still on a table, and an intravenous catheter is placed, usually in an arm vein. Dye may or may not be injected into the vein. The table is slowly inserted into a large X-ray machine. The patient must remain still on the table while the scan occurs.

Is any special preparation needed? 

Patients need to remove any metal (surgical clips, pacemaker devices, earrings) from the body prior to a cardiac CT scan. Some CT scans may require the patient to avoid food, drink or medications before the procedure.

What are the risk factors?

While radiation exposure should never be overlooked, the benefits of the scan far outweigh any risks.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 8/31/2018 8:58:40 AM

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