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What is CCTA?
Computed tomography, more commonly known as a CT or CAT scan, is a diagnostic medical imaging test that produces multiple images of the inside of the body with x-rays. The CT scanner is a large, donut-shaped machine with a short tunnel in the center. You will be lying on a bed table that slides into it.
Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA), also known as cardiac CT scanning, uses an intravenous (IV) injection of iodine-containing contrast material to generate high-resolution images of the coronary arteries and the heart.

Your primary care physician or cardiac specialist will determine whether CCTA is an appropriate test for you.


A nurse or technologist may ask you to remove your clothes above the waist and wear a hospital gown. You may be asked to remove metal objects such as jewelry, which can affect the CT images.

You will be asked to lie on your back on the scanner bed table. While you may lie on this table for approximately 10 - 30 minutes, most of this time will involve preparation. The actual images only take a few seconds to obtain.

An intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into a vein in your arm. Nitroglycerin may also be given as a tablet or a spray underneath your tongue, to widen the coronary arteries and improve the pictures. This may cause a temporary slight headache.

The technologist or nurse will apply sticky patches called electrodes on your chest. This will be used to monitor your heartbeat during the exam.

You will be asked to lie still and will receive instructions to hold your breath for short periods of time (less than 15 seconds) while pictures are taken. It is very important to be absolutely still and to not breathe, move or swallow while the pictures are being taken.

During some steps of the test, contrast dye will be injected through the IV. This may cause a warm feeling all over your body, which usually disappears within a minute or so.

Provided by the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT). For more information click here.


Based upon your condition and the doctor performing the CTA, you may be asked to do the following – always check with your doctor for your preparation before the test:
  • Take a beta-blocker medication to lower your heart rate. Some centers may give such medications by mouth and/or inject it through a vein prior to the test. This will help create the best images of the moving heart.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks or food (e.g. coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate) for 12 - 24 hours prior to your test.

  • Do not eat for 4 hours or drink anything for 1 hour before the test (this may vary, please be sure to check with your doctor’s office prior to your test).

  • Do not take certain medications such as Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra for at least 48 - 78 hours prior to your test.

  • Temporarily stop taking Glucophage (Metformin) for 48 hours after the test.

  • Inform your doctor of any medications you are taking – including over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil or Motrin.

  • Inform your doctor and the CT technologist if you have any allergies to contrast material. If you have had prior reaction to injected contrast, the test may not be possible, or your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce the risk of such a reaction.

  • Women should inform their doctor and the CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

  • If needed, blood tests will be drawn to check for kidney disease prior to the test. People with mild kidney disease can still receive injected contrast but may require additional medications and IV fluids before or after the test.

  • If you have an irregular heartbeat it may make it difficult to get good CT images so this should be clearly mentioned when your appointment is made.

Provided by the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT). For more information click here.


Your doctor will be able to look at your coronary arteries to see whether there is any disease and if so, what the extent of it is.

The images will show everything your doctor needs to know such as the degree of narrowing, amount of calcification or level of plaque burden. They can also be sent to Caristo to measure inflammation around the coronary arteries.

With this comprehensive information, your doctor will be able to select the best treatment for you.