What to Expect During a Cardiac CT

The technologist begins by positioning you on the CT examination table, usually lying flat on your back or possibly on your side or on your stomach. Straps and pillows may be used to help you maintain the correct position and to hold still during the exam.

Electrodes (small, sticky discs) will be attached to your chest and to an electrocardiograph (ECG) machine that records the electrical activity of the heart. This makes it possible to record CT scans when the heart is not actively contracting.

The table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scans. Then, the table will move slowly through the machine as the actual CT scan is performed.

You will be asked to hold your breath for 10 to 20 seconds while images are recorded.

When the exam is complete, you will be asked to wait until the technologist verifies that the images are of high enough quality for accurate interpretation.

Time Consideration

The entire procedure, including the actual CT scan, is usually completed within 10 minutes.

Other Factors

Most health insurance plans do not cover cardiac CT for calcium scoring. The self pay price is $195. This includes the radiologist cost for interpretation.

Limitations of a Cardiac CT

CAD, especially in people below 50 years of age, can be present without calcium and may not be detected by this exam.

A high heart rate may interfere with the test. If a patient's heart rate is 90 or more beats per minute, the exam may need to be rescheduled.