This test looks at the arteries supplying your heart, particularly showing up plaque or severe narrowing which may need treatment.
The procedure consists of three parts: pre-procedure observations; the CT scan; post-procedure observations.
Pre-scan Procedures (30 – 75 minutes)
A Radiology Nurses will ask you a series of questions and check your heart rate and blood pressure. You may be given medication to slow your heart rate for the scan, and be required to wait one hour for the medication to take effect.
A cannula will be placed into a vein in your arm for contrast to be administered during the scan. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire to determine if you have any known allergies or risk factors for contrast.
The CT Scan (15-30 minutes)
You will lie on the CT table on your back with your arms raised above your head. You will be connected to a heart monitor and the contrast injector will be attached to the cannula in your arm. Once everything is connected and you are positioned correctly inside the scanner, the Radiology Nurse will spray Glyceryl tri-nitrate (GTN) under your tongue to dilate your blood vessels.
Staff will now leave the room and the CT Radiographer will begin the CT scan. You will be asked to hold your breath for short times during the scan. Once the images are reviewed by Radiographer and Radiologist, you will be disconnected from the equipment and asked to take a seat in the observation area.
Post-scan Procedures (30 minutes)
Our radiology nurse will observe you after the scan to check for side effects from the GTN spray and contrast, check your blood pressure and heart rate. During this time, the CT Radiographer and Radiologist review your scan to ensure all the information required has been captured on the images. Once everything has been checked, your cannula will be removed and you will be able to leave.
Risks / Side Effects
When you receive an injection of contrast you may notice a sensation of warmth and a metallic taste in the mouth which lasts for a minute or two. There is a small risk of an allergic reaction including hives, itching and difficulty breathing. Severe contrast reactions are extremely rare and we are trained to deal with these situations.
The GTN medication may give you an intense headache which will ease following the scan.
A fee applies for CTCA, but the cost is dependent on certain Medicare criteria. Please confirm at the time of booking.
Before your Scan
- Fast from food and drink for 2 hours prior to your appointment time, with the exception of water (clear fluids are encouraged).
- Do not exercise, smoke cigarettes or consume other stimulants such as caffeine (tea, coffee, cola or energy drinks) from 12 hours prior to your appointment time.
- Withhold from taking Viagra/Cialis medications for 3 days prior to your appointment date, only after checking with your prescribing doctor that it is safe to do so.
- Take any beta blocker medications prescribed by your cardiologist for the procedure as directed.
The total duration of the test requires that you will need to be in the department for 2 – 2.5 hours.
When you make your appointment you will be given your arrival time and scan time.
It is important that you arrive at the arrival time for pre-scan procedures and observations.