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Cardiac CT Scan

What does it show?

A cardiac CT scan can help your doctor detect:

  • Aneurysm
  • Calcium build-up in the walls of your coronary arteries
  • Coronary heart disease (narrowing of your coronary arteries by plaque)
  • Pericarditis
  • Problems with you aorta
  • Problems with your heart function and heart valves
  • Problems with your pulmonary veins
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Results of coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)

Your doctor might recommend that you have a cardiac CT scan before or after other heart procedures. The scan helps pinpoint areas of your heart or blood vessels where the procedure should be done. The scan also helps check your heart after a procedure.

How do I prepare?

Talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • What to Tell Your Doctor
    Be sure to inform your doctor if you:
    • are allergic to any medicines, iodine or shellfish
    • are or might be pregnant
    • have asthma or kidney problems
  • Medications
    Talk with your doctor if you take medicine for diabetes.
  • What to Avoid
    Do not have coffee, tea or caffeinated beverages for 4 hours before your test. Do not eat for 4 hours before your test.

    How is the test done?

    You wear small patches (electrodes) on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiogram (EKG) monitor. This measures your heart’s electrical activity during the test. You may have a dye injected through an intravenous line in your arm. This iodine-based dye (contrast dye) highlights your coronary arteries on the x-ray images. Your doctor may give you medicine to slow your heart rate. This produces better quality images.

    During the scan, you lie still with your back on on a table. The CT scanner is a large machine with a hollow tube in the middle. The table moves inside the tube. The x-ray machine moves around your body in a circle. The machine takes a picture of each part of your heart. A computer puts these images together to make a three-dimensional picture of your whole heart.

    A cardiac CT scan usually takes about 15 minutes to complete. It may take an hour or longer to prepare for the test and for the medicine to slow your heart rate.

    The test is painless. It involves a small amount of radiation. After the scan is done, you may return to your normal activities.

    How will I get the results?

    Your doctor will contact you with the test results as soon as they are available.

    Find a Physician

    Find a physician online or call 215-345-2121 (Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) to speak with a referral counselor.

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