Coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a heart imaging test that helps determine if fatty or calcium deposits have narrowed a patient's coronary arteries. Coronary CTA is a special type of x-ray examination. Patients undergoing a coronary CTA scan receive an iodine-containing contrast material as an intravenous (IV) injection to ensure the best possible images.
Many physicians advocate the careful use of coronary CTA for patients who have:
- Presented themselves in the emergency room with chest pain.
- Suspected abnormal coronary arteries.
- Low to intermediate risk for coronary artery disease, but have symptoms such as chest pain which are not brought on by physical activity.
- Unclear or inconclusive stress test results.
- Intermediate to high-risk for coronary artery disease, but who do not have typical symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue during heavy physical activity.
For these types of patients, coronary CTA can provide important insights into the extent and nature of plaque formation with or without any narrowing of the coronary arteries. Coronary CTA also can exclude narrowing of the arteries as the cause of chest discomfort and detect other possible causes of symptoms.
Your primary care physician, possibly in consultation with a radiologist who would perform the test, will determine whether coronary CTA is appropriate for you.