Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a heart imaging test that helps determine if fatty or calcium deposits have narrowed your coronary arteries.
Coronary CTA is a special type of X-ray. You will receive an iodine-containing contrast material as an I.V. injection to ensure the best possible images.
CT scanning—sometimes called CAT scanning—is a noninvasive medical test that helps doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions.
CT scanning combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed.
CT scans of internal organs, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels provide greater clarity and reveal more details than regular X-ray exams.
Common Uses of a Coronary CTA
Many doctors advocate the careful use of coronary CTA for patients who have:
- Presented themselves in the emergency room with chest pain.
- Suspected abnormal coronary arteries.
- Low to intermediate risk for coronary artery disease, but have symptoms such as chest pain which are not brought on by physical activity.
- Unclear or inconclusive stress test results.
- Intermediate to high-risk for coronary artery disease, but who do not have typical symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue during heavy physical activity.
Coronary CTA can provide important insights into the extent and nature of plaque formation with or without any narrowing of the coronary arteries. Coronary CTA also can exclude narrowing of the arteries as the cause of chest discomfort and detect other possible causes of symptoms. Your primary care doctor, possibly in consultation with a radiologist who would perform the test, will determine whether coronary CTA is appropriate for you.