Often, the best way to determine what’s happening with your heart is to look inside. And one of our best tools to see the heart is computed tomography, or CT.
CT uses X-rays to reveal the anatomy of your heart. We can use it to detect:
- The build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries
- Blood clots that form inside the chambers of the heart
- Tumors in or around the heart
- Congenital heart disease, or defects that may have been present in the heart since birth
Congenital heart disease, or defects that may have been present in the heart since birth
How Cardiac CT Works
Almost everyone has had an X-ray at some point in his or her life. The same technology applies to cardiac CT screenings, but on a larger scale.
Rather than a single X-ray image, cardiac CT captures hundreds of images of your heart. You lie inside a tube, or gantry, while the X-ray scanner rotates around you.
The scanner captures images from many different angles. Then, powerful computers combine the images to create a three-dimensional model of your heart.
Why Cardiac CT Is Useful
With typical X-ray tests, you’re asked to hold very still while the technologist takes an image. But we can’t ask the heart to quit moving for a moment.
By capturing many images of the heart in motion, we can build a digital model of your heart and watch it work. This allows us to detect many issues that might otherwise go undiagnosed and untreated.
Getting a Cardiac CT
The test is usually ordered by a medical provider. Some cardiac CT imaging, however — like cardiac CT for calcium scoring
— can be scheduled without an order if you meet the criteria.
The test is performed inside the hospital. You’ll be asked not to eat for four to eight hours before your test. You’ll also be asked to avoid caffeinated drinks since those can increase your heart rate.
Wear comfortable clothing and be ready to remove any jewelry or piercings. Unless sedation is necessary, you should be able to drive home after the screening.
More About Cardiac CT
If you’d like to know more about cardiac CT testing, visit Tanner’s Health Library