CT of the heart is the examination which uses radiation to create images of your body. Doctors may use it in multiple ways for diagnostics of the heart diseases. These usually include:
- congenital heart diseases
- lipid plaques in coronary arteries
- defects of the heart valves
- blood clots within the heart’s chambers
- heart tumors
How is the CT of the heart performed?
The radiologist will ask you to lie on the CT examination table. Pillows may be used to help you to lie still and maintain the right position during the examination. ECG electrodes will be attached to your chest to record the electrical activity of the heart. Synchronizing the CT scanning with the heart contractions based on ECG makes it possible to record CT scans when the heart is not actively contracting. Therefore, it makes the CT scans more accurrate.
The entire procedure including the actual CT scanning usually takes about 10-15 minutes, although the scanning itself is only a few seconds. During the exam, radiologist may ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 20 seconds while images are recorded. After the examination you will be asked to wait until the radiologist verifies the quality of the images.
CT of the heart for Calcium Scoring
Maybe you have heard of coronary calcium scan, which is CT scan of the heart focused on detecting calcium in coronary arteries.
A cardiac CT scan for coronary calcium is a non-invasive way of obtaining information about the presence, location and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries—the vessels that supply oxygen-containing blood to the heart muscle. Calcified plaque results when there is a build-up of fat and other substances under the inner layer of the artery. This material can calcify which signals the presence of atherosclerosis, a disease of the vessel wall, also called coronary artery disease (CAD). People with this disease have an increased risk for heart attacks. In addition, over time, a progression of plaque build up (CAD) can narrow the arteries or even close off blood flow to the heart. The result may be chest pain, sometimes called “angina,” or a heart attack.
Another examination suitable for your heart disease might be Angiography. Click below to read more.