Benefits vs Risks of a CT Angiography

CT Angiography Benefits

  • Angiography may eliminate the need for surgery. If surgery remains necessary, it can be performed more accurately.
  • CT angiography is able to detect narrowing of blood vessels in time for corrective therapy to be done.
  • CT angiography gives more precise anatomical detail of blood vessels than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Many patients can undergo CT angiography instead of a conventional catheter angiogram.
  • Compared to catheter angiography, which involves placing a catheter (plastic tube) and injecting contrast material into a large artery or vein, CT angiography is a much less invasive and more patient-friendly procedure.
  • This procedure is a useful way of screening for arterial disease because it is safer and much less time-consuming than catheter angiography and is a cost-effective procedure. There is also less discomfort because contrast material is injected into an arm vein rather than into a large artery in the groin.
  • No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination.
  • X-rays used in CT scans usually have no side effects.

CT Angiography Risks

  • There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
  • If you have a history of allergy to X-ray contrast material, your radiologist may advise that you take special medication for 24 hours before CT angiography to lessen the risk of allergic reaction. Another option is to undergo a different exam that does not call for contrast material injection.
  • If a large amount of X-ray contrast material leaks out from the vessel being injected and spreads under the skin where the IV is placed, skin damage or damage to blood vessels and nerves, though unlikely, can result. If you feel any pain in this area during contrast material injection, you should immediately inform the technologist. Women should always inform their physician and X-ray or CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.