What you can expectBy Mayo Clinic staff
During the procedure
CT angiograms are usually performed in the radiology department of a hospital or an outpatient clinic.
Just before you begin your scan, you'll need to remove clothing above your waist, as well as any jewelry. You'll change into a hospital gown.
Because your heart's constantly in motion while it beats, your doctor may give you a medication called a beta blocker, which will slow your heart rate. This will allow the doctor to see your heart more clearly. A technician will insert an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm to inject the dye that will make your heart's arteries visible on the images taken by the CT scanner. You'll receive some numbing medication before the IV is inserted. Although the actual scanning portion of the test takes less than 15 seconds, it may take up to an hour for the beta blocker to slow your heart rate sufficiently before the CT angiogram begins.
The technician will place some electrodes on your chest to record your heart rate throughout the exam. When you're ready to be scanned, you'll lie on a long table that slides through a short, doughnut-like machine. During the test, an X-ray tube will move rapidly around your chest to take images of your heart from many different angles. You won't see the tube moving. A technician will operate the machine from a room that's separated from your exam room by a glass window. There will be an intercom system the technician can use to talk to you.
It's important to stay as still as possible and hold your breath during the scanning portion of the exam. Any movement can blur the X-ray images.
After the procedure
After your CT angiogram is completed, you can return to your normal daily activities. You should be able to drive yourself home or to work.
The images from your CT angiogram should be ready soon after your test. Either the doctor who performed your test or the doctor who asked you to have a CT angiogram should discuss the results of the test with you.
- Cardiac CT. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/ct/ct_all.html. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Gerber TC, et al. Noninvasive coronary angiography with cardiac computed tomography and cardiovascular magnetic resonance. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Bluemke DA, et al. Noninvasive coronary artery imaging: Magnetic resonance angiography and multidetector computed tomography angiography: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association Committee on Cardiovascular Imaging and Intervention of the Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention, and the Councils on Clinical Cardiology and Cardiovascular Disease in the Young. Circulation. 2008;118:586.
- Gerber TC, et al. Ionizing radiation in cardiac imaging: A science advisory from the American Heart Association Committee on Cardiac Imaging of the Council on Clinical Cardiology and Committee on Cardiovascular Imaging and Intervention of the Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention. Circulation. 2009;119:1056.
- Risk factors and coronary heart disease. American Heart Association. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4726. Accessed March 9, 2011.
- Achenbach S, et al. Is CT the better angiogram? Coronary interventions and CT imaging. Journal of the American College of Cardiology Cardiovascular Imaging. 2010;3:29.
- Taylor AJ, et al. ACCF/SCCT/ACR/AHA/ASE/ASNC/NASCI/SCAI/SCMR 2010 appropriate use criteria for cardiac computed tomography: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation Appropriate Use Criteria Task Force, the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, the American College of Radiology, the American Heart Association, the American Society of Echocardiography, the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, the North American Society for Cardiovascular Imaging, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance. Circulation. 2010;122:525.