Various Applications of Cardiac Computed Tomography Scan
Cardiac computed tomography, or cardiac CT, is a painless test that uses an x-ray machine to capture detailed images of the heart. This test is conducted to look for problems in the heart.
During Cardiac computed tomography scan, an x-ray machine will rotate around your body. The scanner will capture images of each part of your heart. The computer assembles the images to make a three-dimensional (3D) image of the whole heart.
At times during the test, an iodine-based dye (contrast dye) is injected into one of your veins. As the contrast dye travels through your blood vessels, it helps to highlight them on the x-ray images. In cardiac computed tomography scan, a small amount of radiation is used. The risk of cancer due to the use of radiation is higher for people younger than 40 years old, especially children. However, latest cardiac CT methods are available that lessen the amount of radiation used for this test.
Cardiac CT is a common test conducted for evaluating:
- Calcium buildup in the walls of the coronary arteries. This kind of CT scan is called a coronary calcium scan. Calcium in the coronary arteries may be an early indication of coronary heart disease (CHD), which is also called coronary artery disease. In coronary heart disease, a fatty substance called plaque narrows the coronary arteries and limits blood flow to the heart. Using the contrast dye, coronary arteries can be highlighted to take better images to check whether the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked.
- Problems related to heart function and heart valves.
- Problems with the aorta. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. Cardiac CT can detect two serious problems in the aorta that are Aneurysm and Dissection.
- Blood clots in the lungs. A cardiac CT scan also may be used to find a pulmonary embolism that is a sudden blockage in a lung artery.
- Problems in the pulmonary veins that carry blood from the lungs to the heart.
- Pericardial disease. This is a disease that occurs in the pericardium, the sac around your heart. A cardiac CT takes clear, detailed pictures of the pericardium.
Cardiac computed tomography scan is done for different purposes.