What is a CT Scan?
CT stands for computerized tomography. A CT scan, also known as a “cat scan”, is a form of imaging that uses an x-ray machine to take pictures of the organs in your body, including your heart. The pictures taken by a CT scan are much more detailed than pictures taken by a standard x-ray machine.
Why do I need a CT Scan?
A CT scan is used to diagnose certain diseases or conditions or to give your doctor more information about a condition you may already have. Some of the things your doctor might be looking for during a CT scan of your heart include:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve problems
- Problems with your blood vessels
- Pericardial disease (a disease of the protective sac that surrounds your heart)
- Lung problems (tumors, blood clots, fluid around the lungs, pneumonia, tuberculosis, emphysema)
What Happens During a CT Scan?
During a CT scan, you will lie on your back on a sliding table that will take you into the middle of the scanner. You will be asked to lie still, and may even be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time.
If you are undergoing a cardiac (heart) CT scan, the machine will move around you in a circle so it can take pictures of the different parts of your heart. A computer will arrange the pictures to form a high resolution image of your heart.
You may also be injected with a contrast agent that will help to enhance the pictures. This contrast agent is also used during other x-ray based procedures, such as catheterizations. In general, these contrast agents are safe, but in rare cases, patients can develop an allergic reaction. Also, if you have kidney problems, the contrast administered during CT scanning can be harmful to your kidneys. Your doctors will consult with your healthcare team to evaluate your kidney function before CT scanning.
CT scans are painless, and they only take a few seconds to minutes to complete.
Wake Forest Baptist Health uses state-of-the-art equipment to perform CT scans, which results in very detailed images. These images provide important information to assist your physician in diagnosing your medical condition and/or planning your course of treatment.
Request an Appointment Online with a Heart Center Specialist