When arterial problems are suspected in a person, doctors have a unique way for seeing inside to get to the root of the issue. Rather than having to guess at the nature and extent of arterial blockage, an angiography CT scan will likely be ordered. For those who are asked to go in for this type of test, the prospect might seem a bit frightening. In truth, however, this technology is rather painless and enables an incredible glimpse inside the body so doctors can treat the real problem at hand.
An angiography CT scan uses a contrast material that is injected into the body. It is not a dye since it doesn’t stain the organs as it travels through the body. Rather, this agent simply causes the anatomy doctors really need to see to light up brightly during a scan. During the test, a patient is injected with the contract, which fills the arteries quickly as it moves on to fill the veins. It is eventually passed out of the body through the kidneys. As the contrast travels through the body, doctors can see the condition of the arteries.
While these tests were once performed with the contrast being injected directly into an artery, this is not always required any longer. Multi-detector CT technology has enabled doctors to avoid the need in many cases, but not all. This reduces the chance of complications associated with an arterial scan by using a vein instead of an artery to insert the contrast.
If your doctor has recommended an angiography CT scan, be sure to ask what to expect during the procedure. A CTA, which involves the use of a vein, takes about 30 minutes to perform. A full CT angiography that involves an arterial injection may take longer. In either event, this technology provides a potentially life-saving look inside the body so it’s quite valuable when concerns arise with the heart.