Banner Health Services  

Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography


Sunny Ly, MD, is a cardiologist with Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.

Question: My family has a history of heart disease. After a recent heart attack scare, I go in for regular check-ups. Now my cardiologist is recommending a coronary CTA. What is that for and will it hurt?

Answer:  Coronary CTA stands for Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography and is a non-invasive heart imaging test that provides your cardiologist with three-dimensional pictures of your heart and heart vessels in motion to see if there is fatty or calcium build-ups in your arteries.

The test takes about 10 minutes and the most pain involved is the insertion of the IV to inject the iodine-containing contrast dye which helps provide clear images.

Tests like Coronary CTAs are important in that they help your cardiologist diagnose current and future heart disease by showing how your heart arteries are currently working. If the test shows that you have significant narrowing of your major heart arteries, your cardiologist might recommend a cardic stent (small, fence-like tubes that support and expand the artery walls for better blood flow) or a more serious surgery, such as open heart or bypass surgery.

If the Coronary CTA shows build-up that has not yet hardened (a.k.a. ‘soft plaque’), your cardiologist might recommend lifestyle changes and medical treatment, such as a prescriptions, that can put you on a path to better heart health without surgery. 

Coronary CTAs are considered the “gold standard” for detection in that they allow cardiologists the opportunity to see how your heart is working without any type of invasive procedure. 

Page Last Modified: 09/03/2015
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