Benefits vs. Risks of a Coronary CTA
Coronary CTA Benefits
- Coronary CTA is noninvasive. Coronary angiograms and cardiac catheterization are more invasive, have more complications related to the vascular access into an artery and the manipulation of a catheter, and require more patient recovery time than coronary CTA.
- A major advantage of CT is that it is able to image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time. It is therefore suited to identify other reasons for your discomfort such as an injury to the aorta or an embolus in the lungs.
- Unlike conventional X-rays, CT scanning provides very detailed images of many types of tissue.
- CT examinations are fast and simple.
- CT has been shown to be a cost-effective imaging tool for a wide range of clinical problems.
- CT is less sensitive to patient movement than MRI.
- CT can be performed if you have an implanted medical device of any kind, unlike MRI.
- No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination.
- X-rays used in CT scans usually have no side effects.
- Angiography may eliminate the need for surgery. If surgery remains necessary, it can be performed more accurately.
Coronary CTA 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.
- The effective radiation dose from this procedure is about 3 mSv with 16- and 64-slice CT, respectively, which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in two to four years. See the Safety page for more information about radiation dose.
- Women should always inform their physician and x-ray or CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. See the Safety page for more information about pregnancy and x-rays.
- CT scanning is, in general, not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary because of potential risk to the baby.
- Nursing mothers should wait for 24 hours after contrast material injection before resuming breast-feeding.
- The risk of serious allergic reaction to contrast materials that contain iodine is extremely rare, and radiology departments are well-equipped to deal with them.