CCTA - Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography

Coronary CT angiography is a CT scan that focuses on the heart, its vessel walls, and surrounding structures. One main advantage of Coronary CT angiography is the fact it is noninvasive compared with all other means of coronary artery visualization.  Clinical studies have shown coronary CTA is reliable for assessing stenosis, patency of grafts, and assessing calcified and non-calcified plaque.



What type of scanner is used?

Our Multislice CT scanners provide the highest quality images with the lowest possible dose. Our state-of–the-art scanner (Prime 80) minimizes patient radiation exposure and to make sure the exam is as safe as possible, the system includes advanced radiation dose reduction technology. Safety is never a choice you should have to make when getting a scan. Our state-of–the-art scanner will automatically adjust to patients with irregular heartbeats, providing quicker, more conclusive exam results. The CT scanner gives your doctor the superior image quality required for the most accurate diagnosis. The scanner accommodates patients weighing up to 450 pounds. The CT table lowers to only 12 inches from the floor for easy patient access. The scanner acquires the images in just a few seconds while you are comfortably lying on the patient table. The exam is completed within a single breath hold. The CT scanners are accredited by the American College of Radiology. ACR-accredited facilities



How should I prepare?

  • You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing without metal parts, like zippers and snaps, for your exam. If not, you may be asked to change into a gown for the procedure. Remove any jewelry that would interfere with the scan.

  • 48 hours before the exam time, please avoid:
    Any erectile dysfunction medications

  • 12 hours before the exam time, please avoid:
    Caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks)

  • No food 3 hours before the exam.

  • Take all prescribed medications on time, as usual, with water only.

  • You may be prescribed a medication (beta-blocker) to take the night before and on the day of the exam--this is to lower your heart rate.

  • Please bring a list of all your current medications with you to the hospital.

  • Be sure to let your physician know of any known allergy to iodine. If allergic to iodine, you will be given medication to take the night before and the   day of the scan to counteract any allergic reaction you may have to the iodinated contrast during the procedure.

  • You must register at the Admitting/Registration office on the main (second) floor across from the gift shop one hour before your exam time. After registering for the exam, you will be directed to the Radiology department.


What should I expect?

  • After obtaining your history, a consent form for the procedure will be signed.

  •  An IV will be placed in your arm near the elbow joint. During the procedure, your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored by a cardiology nurse.

  • If your heart is beating too fast, the pictures can be blurry, just like a photograph of a moving object. The blurring can interfere with the ability to see the vessels in the heart so we try to get the heart rate to beat at a certain rate before we begin the study.

  • To slow your heart rate, it may be necessary to administer an IV dose of beta-blockers through the IV that is inserted in your arm.

  • You will be given instructions on how to hold your breath for the scans. It is very important that you do not breathe during the exposure.

  • Pre-contrast imaging will then begin. This set of images will determine how much calcium is present in the heart’s blood vessels. This is known as a “coronary artery calcium score” exam.

  •  Immediately prior to the iodinated contrast injection, a nitroglycerine tablet will be placed under your tongue. This medicine dilates the vessels around your heart to allow better visualization of those vessels.

  •  The iodinated contrast will then be injected and the final imaging performed. This contrast injection often causes a transient warm sensation lasting less than one minute. The scan is performed in a single breath hold.

  • You will be monitored for 30 minutes after the completion of the exam if you received medication (beta blocker) through your IV.

  • The entire procedure is usually completed within 60 minutes.

  • After the procedure, you should drink a lot of water for the next 24 hours to help flush the contrast out of your system.


Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
A cardiologist and a radiologist will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care physician and the physician who referred you for the exam. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.



What are the benefits of CCTA?

  • Coronary CTA is noninvasive.
  • CT scanning provides detailed images.
  • No radiation remains in your body after a CT examination.
  • A CT can be performed if you have an implanted medical device of any kind, unlike MRI.
  • For your safety, the CT scanners at theWashington Health System Washington Hospital provide high quality imaging, while keeping the amount of radiation exposure to a minimum.


If you have any questions/concerns about your CT exam, please call us at (724) 225-7000 and ask for the CT department.
If you should have to cancel your appointment, please contact us at (724) 250-4300 as soon as possible.



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