Coronary CT

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Atherosclerosis – the hardening and narrowing of arteries from plaque build up on the artery walls – is often the culprit of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.

Until recently, there were no non-invasive studies that could directly evaluate atherosclerosis. However, thanks to major technological advancements, CT has emerged as an excellent tool for evaluating cardiovascular health and better determining the risk associated with coronary artery disease.

Calcium Scoring

A calcium scoring exam uses CT technology to screen for atherosclerosis and to evaluate your risk for heart disease. The exam measures the calcified plaque deposits on the artery and compares that measurement, or “score,” to normal ranges for your age and sex.

Should I get a calcium scoring exam?

A calcium scoring exam is a valuable problem-solving tool for people considered to be at a high risk for developing heart disease. The risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Men 40 years or older, women 45 or older
  • High cholesterol
  • History of smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High stress levels
  • Sedentary lifestyle

If any categories apply to you, talk to your physician about a calcium scoring exam.

This procedure is not recommended for those who have had previous cardiovascular treatment or surgery, including coronary stinting, coronary bypass surgery, pacemaker placement, or valve replacement.

What should I expect?

The scan itself generally takes 10 minutes and does not involve any injections or medications. You will lie on a table fully dressed. A trained staff technologist will place EKG leads on your chest. You will be asked to hold your breath for a brief period to avoid blurry pictures. A cardiovascular specialized radiologist will read the scan and send the results to your physician.

How do I prepare?
  • Do not drink or eating four (4) hours before your exam.
  • Do not consume caffeine or nicotine starting at midnight on the day of exam.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be given a gown to wear during your study.
  • Leave metal objects like jewelry, eyeglasses, and hairpins at home—metal objects can affect the results of the exam. You may be asked to remove hearing aids and any removable dental work.
  • Inform your physician and the technologist of all your current medications and allergies.
  • Inform the technologist of any recent illnesses, medical conditions, and history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease.
  • Notify the technologist immediately if you could be pregnant.

Coronary CT Angiography

Coronary CT angiography (CCTA) is a powerful tool that uses CT technology to visualize blood flow through the small arteries that feed nutrients to the heart muscle.

A CCTA exam is a non-invasive procedure that examines the walls of the coronary arteries to evaluate the presence of hard and soft plaque. Information from the exam can help your provider determine your risk of a heart attack and develop a treatment plan.

Should I get a Coronary CT Angiogram?

Your physician may recommend the exam if you have:

  • An intermediate to high-risk profile with no typical coronary symptoms
  • Chest pain, or inconclusive results from a stress test
  • Unusual symptoms for CAD, but low to intermediate risk profiles
  • Coronary artery anomalies
  • The need for pre-surgical coronary risk evaluation
  • CABG and stent patency
  • Possible subclinical disease (e.g. family history heart disease, abnormal lipid profile, chronic smoking or diabetes)
What should I expect?

About one hour prior to the exam, you may be given a beta blocker medication (Metoprolol). You will be connected to a heart monitor. You will rest quietly until you reach a slow, even heartbeat. This helps ensure clear images. Next, you will lie on the CT table for the scan. During the scan, you will receive a dose of nitroglycerin spray. You will also receive contrast material through an IV, which helps enhance viewing of the coronary arteries. While you receive the IV contrast, the CT tube inside the scanner will rotate around your chest to capture detailed images of your cardiovascular system. To avoid blurry images, you will be asked to hold your breath for 10-15 second intervals and to remain as still as possible throughout the exam. This exam will take approximately 5-8 minutes.

After the exam, expect to wait an additional 15-30 minutes for observation.

A coronary radiologist will review the imaging results and send a report to your physician. Your physician will receive the results and determine appropriate treatment options for heart disease. This may include diet and lifestyle changes, medication and/or further testing.

How do I prepare?
  • Do not eat or drink four (4) hours before your exam.
  • Do not consume caffeine or nicotine starting at midnight on the day of exam.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be given a gown to wear during your study.
  • Leave metal objects like jewelry, eyeglasses, and hairpins at home—metal objects can affect the results of the exam. Receive a blood test prior to the exam if you are over 60 years of age, diabetic, or have kidney disease.
  • Inform your physician and the CT technologist of all your current medications and allergies, especially to contrast materials.
  • Inform the nurse or technologist of any recent illnesses, medical conditions, and history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or kidney disease.
  • Notify the technologist immediately if you could be pregnant.

CT Lung Screening

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women in the United States. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Early detection increases chances of survival. In fact, more than 380,000 people alive today were diagnosed with lung cancer at some point. Results of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) indicate low-dose screening CT scans may reduce lung cancer mortality by more than 20%, by identifying early stage cancers.

CT LUNG SCREENING COULD SAVE LIVES

Should I get a CT Lung Screening Exam?

Take the Quiz to see if you are a candidate.

The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) suggests that individuals who meet the following guidelines:

  • Individuals between the ages of 55-77 who are current or former smokers.
  • Individuals with a history of at least 30 “pack years” of smoking. (A pack year equals the number of packs smoked per day times the number of years you’ve smoked.)
  • Former smokers who have quit within the past 15 years.

Virtual Colonoscopy

Pain in your bowel, colon, or stomach could be caused by many conditions, including ulcers, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal obstruction or cancer. A CT exam can help your physician detect the source of the pain, evaluate the problem, and determine possible treatment options.

CT colonography is an advanced type of X-ray exam that uses computed tomography (CT or CAT) scanning to capture interior views of the colon (large intestine) that can ordinarily only be seen with an endoscope inserted into the rectum. This relatively new, minimally invasive test provides three-dimensional images that can depict polyps and other lesions as clearly as when they are directly seen by optical colonoscopy.

What should I expect?

You will lie on your back on the CT table. A thin tube will be inserted into your rectum. Air will flow through the tube to expand your large intestine for better viewing. The table will move through the CT scanner and take the images. You will be asked to hold your breath at points throughout the procedure to avoid blurry images.

The same procedure will be repeated while you lie on your stomach.

The entire procedure takes 15-20 minutes and does not require sedation.

How do I prepare?

It is important that your bowel is clean and empty for your exam. To prepare for your exam, follow the liquid diet and bowel preparation kit instructions below.

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on your exam date until you are advised to after your exam. You may, however, take your daily medicines as prescribed with small sips of water.

Liquid Diet (starting at midnight the day before your test)

  • Drink as many clear liquids as you like. Drink only clear liquids for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Clear liquids include:
    • Gatorade®, Powerade® (sports drinks with electrolytes are recommended to help with hydration)
    • Water, tea, or coffee (no cream or milk; sugar or honey is okay to add)
    • Vitaminwater®, Crystal Light®
    • Bouillon or broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
    • Jell-O®, Popsicles® (no fruit or cream added)
    • Apple, white grape, or white cranberry juice (no orange, tomato, grapefruit, or prune juice)
    • Soda such as Sprite®,7-Up®, ginger ale, or any cola
    • Clear hard candy, gum
    • Lemonade (with no pulp), iced tea
  • Do not eat any solid foods.
  • Drink plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration. Fluids also help make the laxative in the bowel prep kit more effective.
  • Avoid red liquids (e.g. red Jell-O® or cranberry juice).

Bowel Preparation Kit

The bowel preparation kit contains laxatives and contrast material. The laxatives will help empty the bowel for the exam. The contrast will help to highlight any stool left in your colon on the pictures.

You will begin your bowel preparation kit the day before your exam. Step-by-step instructions will be provided by Inland Imaging before your exam. You may pick up your bowel preparation kit at an Inland Imaging location at Holy Family, South Cowley or Valley.