Clear, Detailed Pictures of the Heart

Cardiac computed tomography (CT) is a painless test that produces clear, detailed pictures of the heart. During CT, patients lie comfortably in a scanner while an X-ray machine moves around their body in a circle, taking a picture of each part of the heart.

Every picture shows a small slice of the heart. The pictures are all put together by a computer to make a large picture of the entire heart, revealing any problems.

Because an X-ray machine is used, cardiac CT scans expose patients to a small amount of radiation. An iodine-based dye may be injected into one of your veins during the scan to help highlight blood vessels and arteries on the X-ray images.

How Can Cardiac CT Help?

Cardiac CT is a common test for finding and evaluating:

  • Problems in the heart. A CT scan can show if your coronary (heart) blood vessels are narrowed or blocked. It can also show problems with heart function and heart valves.
  • Problems with the aorta (the main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body):
    • Aneurysms, which are diseased areas of a weak blood vessel wall that bulge out. Aneurysms can burst—a life-threatening occurrence.
    • Dissections, which can occur when the layers of the aortic artery wall peel away from each other. This condition can cause pain and also may be life threatening.
  • Blood clots in the lungs. A pulmonary embolism is a serious but treatable condition that results from a sudden blockage in a lung artery, usually caused by a blood clot that traveled to the lung from the leg.
  • Pericardial disease. This disease occurs in a sac around your heart called the pericardium.

Find a Doctor for Cardiovascular Care

For more information about the Cardiovascular Institute of Carolina, call 803-641-5551. To make an appointment with a cardiologist, please contact our Direct Doctors Plus® physician referral line at 800-322-8322.