What is CT ANGIOGRAPHY?
CT (computed tomography) Angiography (CTA) is an examination that uses x-rays to visualize blood flow in arterial and venous vessels throughout the body, from arteries serving the brain to those bringing blood to the lungs, kidneys, and arms and legs. CT combines the use of x-rays with computerized analysis of the images. Beams of x-rays are passed from a rotating device through the area of interest in the patient’s body from several different angles to create cross-sectional images, which then are assembled by computer into a three-dimensional picture of the area being studied. Compared to catheter angiography, which involves placing a sizable catheter and injecting contrast material into a large artery or vein, CTA is a much less invasive and more patient-friendly procedure—contrast material is injected into a small peripheral vein by using a small needle or catheter. This type of exam has been used to screen large numbers of individuals for arterial disease. Most patients undergo CT angiography without being admitted to a hospital.
how should I prepare for the procedure
Depending on the part of the body to be examined, you may be asked to take only clear liquids by mouth before CTA. You may be asked whether you have asthma or any allergies to foods or drugs, and what medications you are currently taking. If you are pregnant, you should inform the technologist before the procedure. You probably will not have to undress if you are undergoing an exam of the head, neck, arms or legs but you will have to remove any jewelry, hair clips, dentures and the like that could show up on the x-rays and make them hard to interpret.
how is the procedure performed
Most of the time for a CTA examination is spent setting everything up. Actually recording the images takes only seconds. After changing into a hospital gown and having an IV set up, you will answer questions about things that might complicate the exam (such as allergies), and then you will lie down on a narrow table. The part of your body to be examined will be placed inside the opening of the CT unit with the aid of criss-crossed positioning lights. A test image is taken to determine the best position, and a small dose of contrast material may be given to see how long it takes to reach the area under study. Then the IV is hooked up to an automatic injector, contrast material is injected, and the scan begins. Afterward, the images will be reviewed and, if necessary, some will be repeated.
how do i get the results
After your study is over, the images will be evaluated by one of our board-certified Radiologists with expertise in CT Imaging. A final report will be sent to your doctor, who can then discuss the results with you in detail. Should you have any questions regarding your CTA scan, we will be happy to discuss them with you.
CT Angiography is available at Alamogordo Imaging Center, El Camino Imaging Center, X-Ray Associates at Farmington and X-Ray Associates at Santa Fe.