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Computerised Tomography (CT) Coronary Angiogram, and CT Calcium Score scans look at the arteries that supply blood to your heart. They are less invasive alternatives to conventional catheter angiography, do not require a stay in hospital and may be used to diagnose the cause of chest pain or other symptoms. Your consultant along with a cardiac radiologist will decide whether a CT Coronary Angiogram or CT Calcium Score is best for you. A special dye called contrast is required for imaging the blood vessels in a CT Coronary Angiogram, while this is not needed for a Calcium Score scan which images how much calcium or plaques that may have built up inside your heart’s blood vessels. With these scans, it is possible to acquire high-resolution 3D images of the moving heart, coronary arteries and great vessels, as well as information on the heart muscle and cardiac function, all with a 70% reduction in radiation dose by using advanced scanning techniques.
Depending on if you require contrast media there will be specific instructions given to you to prepare for your scan. This will include how early you need to arrive before your scheduled appointment, whether you are required to fast from food and/or drink prior to arrival, and any other specific requirements to prepare.
Prior to the scan, your height, weight, blood pressure and pulse rate will be taken. It may be necessary to give you oral or intravenous medication to regulate your heart rate, and some may also be sprayed under your tongue. This will help the scanner can take the best images possible. Throughout the scan, you will be connected to an ECG machine to monitor your heart rate. The scan will take about 10 to 20 mins, and you will be positioned on your back with your arms above your head going feet first into the opening of the scanner. The radiographer will explain everything and ensure you fully understand what will happen during the scan.
The Radiographer who performs the scan will ensure all the images have been taken and are prepared for review by the Cardiac Radiologist who will send a report to your referring consultant, which normally is done in less than a week but usually within 48 hours. You will be encouraged to drink extra fluids after your scan if you had contrast. You can otherwise eat and drink as normal and it will be safe to drive and return to work right away.