Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) is a heart imaging test that can show a patient's coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply the heart. Unlike traditional cardiac catheterization, CCTA can be done quickly and does not require recovery time.
What should I expect during my coronary angiography exam?
The entire procedure will take approximately one hour. An RN will be caring for you throughout the procedure. During the test, you are usually alone in the scanner room, but the technologist will watch you through a window. You will be able to talk with the technologist through a two-way intercom.
First, an IV and blood pressure cuff will be placed. If your heart rate is 55 or greater, you will be given IV beta blockers to bring your heart rate into the low 50’s to optimize the images of the coronary arteries. During the CT exam, we administer a substance in the form of a spray under your tongue.
We will bring you into the CT exam room after you have reached the optimal heart rate. We place small pads, or patches called electrodes, on your chest to connect the CT scanner’s internal EKG machine. The technologist positions you on the CT examination table, usually lying flat on your back. We may use straps and pillows to help you remain still and in the correct position.
Next, the table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scans. Then, the table will move slowly through the machine as the actual CT scanning is performed. Depending on the type of CT scan, the machine may make several passes.
We will ask you to hold your breath for 20 to 30 seconds while we take pictures of your heart. It is very important to hold completely still during the procedure.
There will be an injection of contrast. The contrast may make you feel warm flushing sensations.
How do I prepare for my coronary angiography exam?
Before your exam
Your doctor may order blood work before your exam if you are:
- Over 60 years of age and IV contrast will be used for the exam.
- Over 60 years of age, diabetic, or have kidney disease.
On the day of your exam
- Bring an escort to drive you home.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. You may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.
- Remove bras containing metal underwire. You may be asked to remove any piercings, if possible.
- Do not to eat or drink anything other than water for four hours prior to the procedure. Please drink one glass of water one hour prior to your procedure.
- No caffeine for 24 hours prior to the procedure.
- Inform your physician of current medications or known allergies. If you have a known allergy to contrast material, your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, or order a different test.
- Inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or other medical conditions, and if you have a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems. Any of these conditions may increase the risk of an unusual adverse effect.
- Inform your physician and CT technologist if you may be pregnant. If there is a chance of being pregnant, a pregnancy test should be done prior to the exam.
Scheduling and Authorization
If your provider orders a coronary angiogram, we will contact you to schedule your appointment.
Coronary angiograms require a pre-authorization form from your insurance company. If you elect to have the exam without this pre-authorization, there will be a deposit required at the time of study. You may be responsible for the full balance after your insurance has been billed. If you have questions regarding your insurance coverage or benefits, please contact your insurance company directly.
- For general questions about CT scans at The Polyclinic, please call 206-329-1760.
The Polyclinic's CT Department is proud to be recognized as an Accredited CT Facility by the American College of Radiology.
- To schedule an appointment, please call 206-860-5496 and select option 2.
- For general questions, please call 206-329-1760.