Computed Tomography - CT Scans
A CT scan uses contrast dye injected into the body along with a series of X-ray images to provide highly detailed images of the heart and surrounding structures. It can provide accurate cardiac visualization and analysis in less than 30 seconds.
UC San Diego Health System has three high definition 64-slice CT scanners, which provide extremely high resolution for optimal imaging. These 64-slice scanners allow images of the heart to be taken between beats, which provides unblurred, detailed pictures of the heart that were impossible to obtain with earlier technology.
These advanced CT scanners also have the capability to deliver radiation only as needed during the snapshots of the heart, further reducing radiation exposure to the patient. Because overexposure to radiation over a lifetime can cause health problems, the goal is to obtain the best quality images with the least amount of radiation.
High Definition Views of the Cardiothoracic Region
A cardiovascular CT scan can provides a high-definition view of:
- Coronary arteries
- Pulmonary veins
- Pericardium (the sac around the heart)
- Thoracic and abdominal aorta
This technology is especially useful in showing abnormalities and narrowing of the arteries, as well as areas of restricted blood flow to heart muscle tissue.
UC San Diego specialists use CT technology for CT angiograms, which offers an alternative to more invasive diagnostic procedures such as cardiac catheterization with a conventional angiogram. A CT angiogram to view the heart and arteries can be performed using intravenous dye and the scanner device alone, without catheterization.
CT angiograms also provide a non-invasive method to:
- View stents and determine whether they have become blocked
- Evaluate how well bypass grafts have healed
- Provide adjunct testing to stress tests that had inconclusive results
- Perform coronary calcium scans and evaluate risk of heart disease.
A cardiac CT virtual angiogram can provide analysis of coronary arteries in less than 30 seconds – vastly improving patient comfort while providing images of unmatched quality.