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 free physician referral line at 803-761-6970.