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CT of the Heart (CT Angiography of the Coronary Arteries) - Wayne Radiologists has been performing CT scans of the heart since installing a Seimens Definition 128-slice CT scanner in January of 2007. This is the most advanced CT scanner in the world and the first of its kind installed in North Carolina.

This CT scanner allows us to very rapidly scan the heart and obtain images of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart muscle. These CT images are similar to those obtained from a “heart cath”, and the scan is called a CT Angiogram. Blockages of the coronary arteries can result in a heart attack. The only other reliable way to directly image the coronary arteries is with a cardiac catheterization, also known as a “heart cath.” This is an invasive test with more risks than a CT scan. It requires puncturing an artery in the groin or arm and placing a catheter directly into the arteries of the heart. Afterwards, a patient must lay flat for up to eight hours. It is also a very expensive test, more than three times the cost of a CT. CT of the heart and its blood vessels (CT Coronary Angiography) requires nothing more than an IV in the hand or arm and an injection of a small volume of contrast (dye). The images are obtained in approximately 8-10 seconds (the whole test takes about 20-25 minutes). The patient then may go home without any monitoring or limitations.

We recommend CT Coronary Angiography in the following patient groups:

  • Patients with unexplained chest pain
  • Patients with an inconclusive nuclear medicine stress test
  • Patients with known coronary artery disease being managed medically (with cholesterol lowering drugs, etc.)

We have been impressed this year with the quality of the images produced by our new CT scanner. We have also been surprised at how often “low-risk” patients have had severe blockages in their arteries. We have also found significant disease in patients with “negative” cardiac stress tests. The medical management of many of our coronary CTA patients has been changed by the results of their test. Ask your doctor about coronary CTA; it may change your life!

 
 
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