A CT coronary angiogram (CTCA) involves scanning the heart using a computed tomography (CT) scanner. This involves taking X-rays at different angles to create images of the heart, which the doctor uses to diagnose and treat illnesses within the heart and coronary arteries.
How do I prepare for a CTCA?
Preparation is completed during a pre-consultation with the CT technician. They will inform you of all the preparation required 12-24 hours prior which involves fasting, staying off caffeine for 12 hours prior, ceasing vigorous exercise and so forth. It may also require administration of a beta-blocker (metoprolol) which is given and prescribed by a cardiologist during this pre-consultation. Ultimately, our goal is to prepare you to lower your heart rate (<65 bpm) on the day of the scan, as it provides a clearer diagnosis.
What does the scan involve?
After pre-consultation, you will receive a booking within 3 days to do the CTCA. This scan has 3 parts. The first involves a calcium score, which is a non-contrast scan of the heart to look for plaque. The second involves injecting a small amount of contrast to see how long it takes to get to the heart. With this time calculated, we inject a much larger volume of contrast to fill the coronary arteries and finish the third and final scan.
What is the contrast used in the CTCA?
The contrast is omnipaque 350, an iodine based dye we use to enhance organs and blood vessels in the body. This causes areas to appear white against the much darker surrounding, hence providing contrast to illustrate the heart clearly to the cardiologist.
What are the risks of the contrast?
The CT technician will run through your medical history to ensure you are a good candidate for the contrast injection, as allergic reaction is possible. Allergic reactions to the contrast are extremely uncommon (<0.04% chance) and usually are mild if they do occur. That being said, we are always cautious of its use and will obtain a medical history to ensure the risk is as low as possible. If you have any concerns, feel free to ask the technician before the scan.
Why was I referred for a CTCA?
A GP or cardiologist will refer for the CTCA for a number of reasons, common ones include atrial fibrillation (AF), previous history of heart attacks, chest pain, arm/back pain, or family history of heart disease, to name a few.
Can Life Medical Imaging do this scan?
Yes – absolutely. If you have been referred for this scan, feel free to make a booking at Life Medical Imaging in Bateau Bay!