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CT (Computed Tomography)

Cardiovascular Medicine P.C. is excited to offer state-of-the-art 64-Slice Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA) to the greater Quad Cities.

What is a CCTA?
CCTA is an imaging method that uses a computed tomography (CT) scanner to look at the structures and blood vessels of the heart (coronary arteries). These scanners have been used to image blood vessels in other parts of the body for many years. The coronary arteries are more difficult to image because they are small and move with the heartbeat. CT scanners that have 64 slices or higher, can image with enough speed and detail to see the coronary arteries well.

How is CCTA different from a nuclear stress test?
Both CCTA and a nuclear stress test may be used when more information about the heart is needed. Both tests help determine if someone has heart disease. A nuclear stress test looks at the blood flow patterns of the heart muscle during rest and while the heart is under stress. Areas of reduced blood flow to the heart muscle can indicate a blockage in the coronary artery supplying blood to that area of the heart. A CCTA looks directly at the coronary arteries and can estimate the amount of blockage. Your provider will determine which test is appropriate for you. In some cases both tests may be necessary.

How is a CCTA different from a cardiac catheterization?
CCTA and cardiac catheterization have a lot in common. Both tests use X-rays and imaging contrast to look for blockages in the coronary arteries. Cardiac catheterization is an invasive procedure that uses catheters that pass from an artery in the leg up to the heart. Contrast is injected directly into the coronary arteries so they can be imaged. This allows for very precise pictures of the arteries. CCTA uses a CT scanner and contrast injected through a vein in the arm. The images produced by CCTA are not as detailed as cardiac catheterization images. However, CCTA images are typically detailed enough for doctors to get a good idea if there are significant blockages in the coronary arteries.

What other information can a CCTA provide?
Unlike coronary catheterization or stress testing, CCTA can visualize the wall of the coronary artery and estimate the extent of disease. The test can measure the amount of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries to help predict your risk of a heart attack. The amount of calcium may help your provider decide how aggressively to treat you for risk factors for heart disease. CCTA can also create 3-dimensional models of the heart. These models can help your doctor look at the structures of a heart.

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